People Are Lazy; and That Includes You and Me
You know, one of the strangest aspects of the whole health and fitness game is how eager people are to spend money on solutions, and complete ignore the stuff they can fix for free.
You know, one of the strangest aspects of the whole health and fitness game is how eager people are to spend money on solutions, and complete ignore the stuff they can fix for free.
This is especially ironic (and infuriating) when you consider that the things you can fix for free is exponentially more important than anything you can solve with a new diet or super shake or anything else. Seriously. These are some of the most important things that you need to address if you hope to ever hit your goals.
Now, without question, I think training and nutrition programs are a great investment if they’re a good fit for you. And, I think that if you’re ready for them, supplements can be a good investment, too.
But, you should do these after you have some other things in line—the important things that you can do at home, for free.
Now, I’m going to tell you what they are, but don’t expect any “secrets” to be revealed. Sadly, these things are very well known, just not terribly well-practiced.
However, if you improve them just a little bit, you’ll begin to see decreases in body fat, increases in energy, and even a longer life span.
Here we go—get ready to learn a buncha shit you already know.
Seriously. Drink more water.
You’re not drinking enough, and you know it. I know it.
You know how I know? Because I’ve worked with several thousands of clients in my career, and most of them weren’t. If there’s anything to statistics, that’s a reasonable enough sample size from which to extrapolate information.
When I start with a new client I make them keep a food log. For the first 2-3 weeks I work with them, they have to write down everything they eat and drink, no matter what; everything from protein shakes to gum to condiments, if it goes in their mouth, they record it. (Insert obligatory sex joke. Har, har, you’re so clever.)
Anyway, without question, over 90% of them are just not drinking enough water. In fact, some of them don’t drink any water; their liquid consumption consists of coffee, soda, juice, etc.
I’m not sure I have to explain all of the reasons that water is so important, but I’ll give you a few. Obviously, water is the most vital fluid in your body; if you want to use the analogy of a car, it’s not just the gasoline—water is also the oil, brake fluid, and anti-freeze.
Having a properly hydrated system helps with digestion and makes you more capable of breaking down and absorbing nutrients.
It also aids with bowel movements by preventing constipation (1). The rate of excretion increases, which helps flush toxins out of the body—the solution to pollution is dilution, as the saying goes.
In terms of fat loss and muscle gain, staying hydrated helps in ways it’s impossible to quantify. Firstly, your metabolism is healthier: when you’re dehydrated, things slow down (partially for conservation).
Secondly, hydrated muscles contract more efficiently. Workouts will be more productive, and more intense.
For the sake of brevity, those are very basic reasons with very basic explanations, but the take-home is that it’s really, really, really important to stay hydrated.
Here’s something else really interesting: I read the weirdest statistic, and I’m trying to remember where I read this. But it was some crazy thing like in 60% of Americans the thirst response is so weak that it’s often mistaken for hunger.
Now, there was no substantiation for that, and it might be a gross exaggeration, but it’s certainly an interesting point and makes you view things in a different way. Think about that—even if it’s overestimating by a factor of two, even if it’s “only” 30%, that is a tremendous amount of people who are so thirsty that they think they’re hungry.
This happens, in part, because people don’t train themselves to drink, and their body and mind react by telling them to get hydration the way it’s become accustomed: food.
It’s one of the single biggest things you could do, and it is literally, the easiest thing to fix. It’s there. It’s Free. Just drink it. I don’t want to try to quantify how much more fat you can burn, and I shouldn’t have to.
Going back to the car analogy, consider that a mechanic charges you $60-100 to change and replace the important fluids in your car, and you could be taking care of yourself (for FREE, dammit) by drinking more water. That’s what you need to do.
As for how much to drink, as a rule of thumb, for people who train regularly, I recommend drinking one liter per 50 pounds of body weight. So, if you’re a 100-pound woman drink two liters of water a day, which really is not that much. It seems like a lot, but it isn’t. If you’re a 200-pound man, drink four. Additionally, for every cup of coffee you have, you should drink a cup of water.
Again, these are pretty basic recommendations, but they’re easy to follow and extremely effective for maintaining hydration. And, they are barebones recommendations–minimums, as it were. Your goal should be to drink more.
Just get it out of the way earlier. One of the first things I do every single morning is drink 16 ounces of water; it’s part of my morning routine (along with doing my neural wake-up call and drinking athletic greens). It’s just that important.
Please. DRINK. MORE. WATER.
If you’ve been paying attention at all over the past few years, you’ve heard that sitting is death. While it may sound a bit dramatic to phrase it so severely, the fact is, it’s true.
Quite true, actually, in the literal sense. People who sit a lot die much, much younger than people who don’t. The numbers vary a bit, but according to one study, those who sit 6+ hours per day are likely to die 15 years before those who sit 3 or fewer hours per day (2). Another found that people who sit for most of the day are 54% more likely to die of a heart attack than those who do not.
Don’t believe me? Here, ask this chair:
I mean, if a goddamn talking chair says it, it must be true. So there.
Anyway, there are all sorts of reasons for this, but researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint the specific cause. Obviously, a big part of it is decreased caloric expenditure—standing for an hour burns 60 more calories than sitting for that length of time. But that’s just one aspect. Sitting too much causes gluteal amnesia (basically, makes the glutes less likely to fire during both exercise and day-to-day activity), which decreases the number of calories you burn.
Now, you might think that this only applies to people who are sedentary overall; that you’re exempt from all of the consequences of sitters because you exercise and eat well. These things help, but they don’t make you immune. One study found that even among people who were otherwise active, sitting for more than 4 hours per day had deleterious effects (3).
In terms of your actual fitness, sitting too much is going to mess up your workouts in one very simple way: it’s going to screw up your posture. When you sit, your hip flexors are in a shortened position; sitting too often creates perpetual shortness (or “tightness”), to the extent that it can pull your pelvis into posterior tilt. This will make you primed for injuries, specifically low back and hip injuries.
Similarly, sitting too much generally means you’re looking down at a computer, and typing at one—the result of this behavior is chronically shortened/tight pecs, creating a rounded, forward-rolled shoulder effect. In addition to just looking terrible, this has implications for shoulder and back health.
All of which is to say, sitting too much is going to make you more likely to get injured from your workouts and cause you to get less out of them even if you’re not injured in any acute way.
So, what to do? The easiest answer is to sit less and stand more. But, that may be easier said than done. It’s not that standing is hard to do; it’s just easy to forget to do it.
With that in mind, a few tips:
Anyway, sitting is death, and standing is free. Sooo…why would you not put in a modicum of effort to fix this?
We don’t want to bore you, but you need more sleep. Why? It’s simple: lack of sleep is associated with:
Not sure about you, but none of that sounds good to me.
If you’re still not convinced, here’s what’s more important to understand about your nightly ritual: it’s not necessarily how long you sleep, but the quality of your sleep that is directly correlated to improving your life and health on a daily basis, say researchers at the Institute of Medicine. While there are numerous studies that show a link between poor sleep and diseases such as hypertension and diabetes (as well as shorter lifespan) this study focused on the problems that sleep causes in your day-to-day life (4).
And after reviewing the behaviors and self-reported tendencies of more than ten thousand people, a connection is very clear: lack of sleep ruins your ability to function. You have trouble concentrating, remembering information, driving, taking care of your finances, and performing your job at a high level.
While none of this may sound shocking, what’s most interesting is how easily you can change how you feel. The survey found that more than 30 percent of adults sleep less than six hours per night. And these people were the ones with the highest percentage of related problems. One the other hand, those who slept more 8+ per night didn’t have issues that were statistically significant. In other words, they weren’t complaining about the same issues.
If that weren’t bad enough, there are some hormonal implications to consider: it’s been found that sleep less than 6 hours per night for as little as two weeks can lower testosterone levels by 10-15% (5). That’s insane.
Increasing GH can make your sleep more restful even when you’re not spending as much time in your slumber, according to researchers at Oregon. But more importantly, more GH and better sleep quality will lower cortisol, which offsets the damage caused by fewer hours of rest.
So, if you want to compromise sex drive, have trouble focusing, and die earlier, all while sabotaging your fitness efforts…by all means, keep thinking you’re “fine” with just 5 hours per night.
For those of us who recognize the limits of our mortality, I have some suggestions.
Now, first and foremost I’ll let you know that I did take the initiative and made some calls to try to have more hours added to the day—so far that hasn’t worked. Until I have some success there, you’ll need to take a few steps on your own to ensure you get dem zzzz’s.
Before we get into all of that, I’ll concede that I know you might not always be able to achieve seven or eight hours of sleep per night, even under the best of circumstances. You’ll be busy. I get it; I’m busy too. But, let’s be honest: you’re not that busy. Not all the time, anyway. So, “busy” isn’t an excuse every day.
Take a hard look at the end-of-evening activities you can cut out to get to bed an hour earlier. Do you really need to check Facebook again? Is it imperative to catch up on ESPN right now? Of course you don’t. So, well…maybe just don’t?
Once you’ve established that you do have a few non-essential items on your schedule, move as many of them as possible to the end of the day. That way, you can snip them out as needed.
On the other hand, if you leave things you absolutely need to get done until the end of the day, of course, you’re going to stay up later. So, anything that you view as essential (work, dinner, etc), make sure you get it done at least an hour before bed.
That’s just one way to handle things in terms of scheduling.
Honestly, I don’t want to give you too many strategies for trying to go to bed earlier and bog you down with too much. Instead, I want to give you just one strategy—a fun exercise for you to do over the next two weeks that should help. A little challenge, if you will.
For the next week, record the time you go to bed. Don’t actually try to change it; just record it. Keep a little pad by your bed and just record the time you climbed into bed. Over the next 7 days, your only job is to record when you climbed into bed.
Now, take the average of those times. If your weekday and weekend times are drastically different because you go out partying, exclude the weekends; just average 5 weekdays.
Once you have your average bedtime, the challenge begins: for the next 2-3 weeks, make it your goal to climb into bed 15 minutes earlier than that average. That’s it. Just 15 minutes. All you need to do is start by shaving 15 minutes off your day at the end of the night.
While that won’t add up to much in terms of sleep time, it will begin to build the habit of getting to bed earlier; more importantly, it will show you that you are the one in control of when you go to sleep, not the outside world.
Make that happen.
Again, the crazy part about all of this is that everyone knows these things. Everyone. We all know we should drink more water and stand more often and get more sleep. Every single person reading this knew all of these things before setting eyes on these words. But we don’t do them.
Well, partially because we’re lazy. Partially because they seem inconvenient, in that they consistently impact your leisure time, unlike training, which has it’s own dedicated time block for most of us.
Mostly, because we’re stupid…because we think we’re so smart. We assume we have the basics covered so well that we can put all of the emphasis on the more advanced stuff, like new programs and high-level techniques.
And really, if most of just got some damn sleep, got off our asses, and drank some damn water, we’d lose fat faster, gain muscles more easily, be able to access the strength we’ve built, and avoid injuries more effectively. Oh, and live longer, too.
All without spending a single dime.
Comments for This Entry
Renee EdwardsAwesome article. You're absolutely right. Most people know all of this. It's simple. But sometimes we confuse simplicity with simplistic; as if it's superficial and insignificant because it's not complicated and doesn't seem challenging. The real challenge isn't in the behavior itself, it's in identifying our current habits, eliminating behaviors that don't serve us, and adopting more useful behaviors. The tip on standing more often (and especially while we work) was especially helpful. I think of the three, that's something that I think about least. I'm sometimes completely unaware of how much I'm sitting when I get absorbed in work and research. As I read through Tip #2, I stood up, held my laptop and read through the entire article. Haven't sit down in the last 30 minutes. Thanks for the awesome reminders and the refreshing delivery!
October 24, 2014 at 3:49 am
Ty CSits down to read this article: 1) Drink more water gets up fills a glass of water, okay, got it! 2) Sit less. Stands up and reads on ipad 3) Sleep more at this point I think i'm going to take a nap. That's about 3 steps toward fat loss I took within reading the article.
September 19, 2014 at 12:03 am
Evolve GymI like your thoughts and posts regarding diet and exercise and your own personal stories. I am a gym owner and personal trainer and I am always looking for helpful tips for my clients. Blogs with informative and creative insight on healthy eating are definitely much appreciated. Anyways, it's great to hear about other's successes. Let me know what you think about a diet post I did: http://www.evolvegymoc.com/eat-skinny/
August 8, 2014 at 9:20 pm
David HobdellOk these were some awesome tips.Really m damn sure i can say that all people know these tips but they dont follow .These have been told us by our parents for generations but i guess generation 2.0 dont give a damn. Definately worth sharing. U mentioned "For every cup of coffee you have, you should drink a cup of water" why is that?
July 22, 2014 at 6:16 am
josieI love the way you post regarding on getting rid of FAT. Well on my case, since I'm a freelance who always lay down and or sit for more than 8 hrs per day, I case that is more scary. Before, my weight is only 48 kg and after almost 4 yrs I am now 64 kgs. Because of the way I work. So what I did, I bough these tools Procizion Vegetable Spiral Slicer and Procizion Digital Kitchen Food Scale to weigh the amount of food I will consume. I believe there's a need with proper exercise but given the nature of my job, I can't find time to exercise. These tools are great and it helps me lose a couple of weight but is it still okay not to take exercise? Please do advice. Thanks.
July 18, 2014 at 4:35 am
Mynt ProductsMynt has all-natural, time tested supplement and energy drink products that get REAL results which are not over-hyped or over-priced. These products are backed by world renown nutritionist, Mark Macdonald. http://myntproducts.com
June 20, 2014 at 9:11 pm
Dave ReddenI like to take quick foam rolling breaks when I'm working at home. I find it really helps to refocus on the task at hand, and let's face it, we all need a little more soft tissue work.
March 31, 2014 at 1:48 am
Angelien EvaThe online store where the reliable quality of various sports offered fast delivery within 1 working day for weights, Gymbal, barbells, dumbbells, fitness ball, fitness, sports, table tennis, badminton and running. http://www.mijnfitnesswinkel.nl/gewichten http://www.mijnfitnesswinkel.nl/gymbal-kopen-gymbal-online-bestellen
March 19, 2014 at 10:53 am
Tim HayesI don't believe anyone is lazy i think the issue of implementing healthier structures are down to behaviour patterns and looking at the barrier surrounding them.
February 22, 2014 at 9:34 am
craigBuy him a proper pillow. I snored for years and i went and brought a chiropracter pillow and it stopped my snoring straight away. i have broad shoulders so i needed a pillow that didnt allow my head to drop. Most pillow shops sell them now. They are generally not cheap but i think well worth the money
February 8, 2014 at 4:09 pm
HelenSometimes our bodies are able to do amazing transformations! You just have to make regular actions directed for that and never stop on your way. For me physical activity works best. In order to recover properly after my workouts I am taking Second Wind by Military Grade. This is new vegetarian post-workout supplement which increases muscles longevity. It helps muscles to recover quickly and reduces the soreness. My body is grateful and willing to exercise whenever I ask it to :)
February 7, 2014 at 1:27 pm
Susan LozanoI agree that we all knows these tips, but the real problem is, we are all lazy to a degree, unless you're looking to make some serious changes to your life. I'm fortunate to have a career that makes me stand on my feet for 4 - 6 hours throughout the day. But I also can't just sit in one place for hours upon hours. My brain won't allow me. I think the sitting thing is the critical problem, in my opinion, with most people not reaching their fitness goals. They get lazy and don't want to, or have the desire, to get up, move, workout, or something along those lines. Anyways, great article. I always enjoy reading some "common sense" stuff you post on here.
February 4, 2014 at 10:11 pm
Shana MyskoI'm glad sleep is mentioned in this article. I'm sure you've overheard some of the conversations at Bizdom where fellow entrepreneurs talk about lack of sleep as a point of pride. It's incredibly unhealthy (note, those same people get sick somewhat often) and it only leads to an astounding lack of productivity. Sleep is not a waste of time. It's a valuable asset.
November 27, 2013 at 12:28 am
Adam BaratzThis was a great article! Its all so obvious, but I'll often forget the obvious stuff. I find that staying hydrated is the most obvious thing that you can do. Its also the routine that I am worst at following. Also, a lot of workplaces are now implementing a 10,000 steps challenge get get people moving. Its a pretty cool program. http://www.10000stepsusa.com/
November 19, 2013 at 5:58 pm
Adrian HowardGood article and useful , Thank you very much, i hope that you continue to progress to the best,I hope You Check out my Little blog if you’re interested about <a href="http://thesimplewayto.blogspot.com/">Health And Fitness</a>
November 8, 2013 at 6:58 pm
Adam CornThere's a handy program called Workrave (google it) that you can set to remind you to take a break after you've been sitting at your computer for a while. I'm not affiliated with those guys but I recommend it. Good thing about drinking more water is it means more bathroom breaks = less sitting :D
October 31, 2013 at 2:42 pm
Dale van Waverenoh yes, all such common sense - my biggie is SLEEP - on my way to type 2 diabetes and the only thing I haven't been able to fix , is SLEEP - I just can't do it. On a good night I'm wide awake again after an hour of restlessness, stay awake for 2 or 3hrs, then get another hour of restlessness if I'm lucky, then awake until the birds sing - sure as hell no quality there. On a bad night I can't even shut my eyes - I give up around 2am and lie there and solve all the world's problems. Tried all the usual 'fixes' - HELP! - anyone??? Scared I'm gonna crash my car or something....
October 30, 2013 at 8:33 pm
Michael Murphy"Well, partially because we’re lazy. Partially because they seem inconvenient, in that they consistently impact your leisure time, unlike training, which has it’s own dedicated time block for most of us. Mostly, because we’re stupid…because we think we’re so smart. We assume we have the basics covered so well that we can put all of the emphasis on the more advanced stuff, like new programs and high-level techniques." Weird....it's like you know me and we haven't even met. Hell, I didn't know this about me until I just read it. Thank you.
October 30, 2013 at 6:38 pm
Joanne Wozniacki StrobelGood Stuff! Thanks John! Just some of my routine....... I begin each morning with 20 ounces of water upon awakening, it's what the body needs first and most. As I am doing my hair, I can get in 40 to 60 no stop squats. I do have a desk job, but for the last 9 years I do what I call "active sitting" using a fitness ball, and tuned into my radio, when a good song comes on I get b-bopping on my ball and also get other stretches and moves in. I live close to work so I can get home for an hour and get in usually a 2 mile walk on my treadmill while catching up on my favorite soap. I make it to the gym 3-4 times a week and weight train. I just reached a new personal best of benching 100 pounds, not bad for an old girl. I work in the barn helping my boyfriend restore classic cars on the weekends, and I do my own yard work. I believe in staying active. That's me! Again, thanks John!
October 30, 2013 at 5:46 pm
MF"Just for little bottles." lol
October 30, 2013 at 1:40 pm
Peter JohnsenThanks for the reminder, boss! :) Great article!
October 30, 2013 at 5:29 pm
RabiaAll very helpful, easy peasy tips. BUT. What if a snoring husband is interfering with the quality and duration of sleep? I mean, aside from plugging his nose, I've tried everything to get him to stop. Short of sleeping separately, I don't know what to do. Putting the onus on him doesn't do anything because he sleeps just fine and has no incentive to find a way to stop snoring. My sleep has been utter crap since we got married. I love the guy, but not his Snorezilla tendencies.
October 30, 2013 at 4:41 pm