The Bare Necessities

One of the best movie songs EVER!

Everyone wants to be fancy and everyone wants to be complex. The thing is, when people try to be fancy, they most likely have completely skipped over the basics. You don’t try to play 18 without spending a ton of time at the driving range and on the putting green. Health and fitness is no different. We all know the chick who wants to stop resembling a teletubbie and her master plan of weeks packed with hours on the elliptical and “meals” consisting of a stalk of celery and 4 baby carrots.

If you’re just trying to get into shape, following these basics will help you. Guaranteed. Or if your life is like mine has been for the past few months, long days with absolutely no set schedule but a million things to do. These will help you too. Consider them the putting green of health. Once adhering to them has become second nature you can move onto playing a real round.

1) Eat Food (aka Don’t Eat Shit)

See a commercial for it on TV? Ad for it in the newspaper? Does the packaging scream about how “healthy” it is? Don’t eat it. Processed food, for the sake of simplicity, is full of shit. Real food, you know, the kind that you have to worry about spoiling, isn’t full of shit. The common advice here is to only shop from the outside edges of your grocery store. If you do this and you’ll only be able to buy produce, real (not canned) meat, and dairy. The only exceptions would be when buying rice, oats and the like. Don’t be tempted to buy the pre-packaged, pre-flavored kinds though since they are full of…you guessed it…shit.

2) Move

Stand up. Put down your XBOX controller. I don’t care if you’re about to win your 5th Super Bowl in Franchise Mode of Madden 10. Get your ass up and move. Walk down the block, play with the kids, push mow the lawn if it’s not huge. The key is to stop sitting on your fat ass all day. Basic movements burn calories and help increase your general work capacity. If your already following a basic training program this extra movement will only help you decrease body fat and/or increase your general conditioning.

3) Motivation

Find some. The most basic motivators are sex (getting it) and death (avoiding it). I’m willing to bet that if your life revolves are pre-packaged food and XBOX you’re not getting much sex and probably closer to death than most people. As long as you find something that can consistently motivate you, you’re moving in the right direction.

4) The BASIC Movements

Push, pull, squat, bend, lunge and twist. I usually throw run and jump in there too. The most basic of resistance programs pick exercises that balance these movement patterns. Stop worrying about if you should do hammer curls or concentration curls today and pick two or three of these movements per workout. Lather, rinse and repeat two or three times a week making sure to get all 6 or 8 movements in every week.

5) Sleep

It’s listed last because it’s usually the last thing that people think of when trying to get healthier. You can eat the perfect diet and follow the perfect training program, but without proper sleep you’re screwed. The most common recommendation is 7-9 hours every night. Lately I’ve also seen researching claiming that some people are genetically predisposed to needing less, as little as 5 hours per night. So here is what you do. If you’re not already in tune with your sleep schedule set aside 8-9 hours per day to sleep. If you consistently wake after 6 hours so be it. Just realize that your bodies need for sleep will change depending on your energy expenditure for the day and your previous nights sleep.