2/3 of Americans are overweight and we spend $60 billion on diets and exercise - you don't need more fitness advice - just 3 simple rules

You Don’t Need More Fitness Advice – Just Do These 3 Things

Any google search on fitness will give you advice-overload, but America is not getting fitter.  On the contrary, we're getting fatter.

Two-thirds of Americans are now obese or overweight, and judging by the more than $60 billion we spend on diets and exercise programs, most people aren't happy with the body they see in the mirror.  Are you?

​I used to spend a lot of time collecting and curating complex advice about everything from antioxidants (eat dark chocolate!) to resveratrol (drink wine!), until I realized that I was simply justifying my own consumption habits and laziness.  The day I figured out the ridiculously simple fitness rules that really work was the day I started actually changing the shape of my body and loving what I saw in the mirror.  It really is as simple as 3 rules.

3 Simple Rules

  1. Eat Before You're Hungry
  2. Learn to Push Your Own Limits
  3. Sleep When it's Dark​

​Eat Before You're Hungry

​Those four words are worth more than all the diet books ever published.

You will find lots of advice about when to eat, all of which are myths based on other people's guesses at what works.  For example:

Why follow someone else's eating schedule when you have your own built-in scheduler? - it's called hunger.  But waiting until you're hungry to eat won't work for the specific reason that hunger evolved as a survival mechanism.  In order to put that signal to work to help you lose weight you have to understand how hunger works.

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Hunger evolved to help us survive periods of famine.  When your body anticipates starvation it will signal your brain to consume more food and store it as fat, so you won't run out of the energy you need to survive.  In other words, it evolved to make us gain weight, not lose it.  Since food is now plentiful and you have access to it any time, you can flip the script and use your hunger signals to help you control your weight.

The prefrontal cortex is the decision, planning, and simulation engine of your brain.  It's kind of like the brain's brain.  All you have to do is exercise that part of your brain in two specific ways to take advantage of the hunger signal and use it to help you control your weight.

First, you need to learn how to measure and rate your own hunger and fullness.  There a lots of internal signals that you can learn to recognize - so start ranking them on a numerical scale.  Are you salivating at the thought of food?  Does your belly feel hollow? Is your mind preoccupied with your next meal?

What about fullness?  Learn to listen to all the signals like hiccups, belt-tightening, even being so stuffed that it's hard to take a really deep breath.  Once I learned to recognize these signals I began to get a true sense of just how full I was.

You also need to learn to distinguish genuine hunger from eating out of habit, anxiety, boredom, or because other people put food in front of you.

​The second component of putting the hunger signal to work for you is pre-planning meals and snacks so you can eat before you're hungry.  When you notice your hunger level reaching a 4 or 5 on a 10-scale, you should eat before it gets to 7 or 8, and definitely before you are famished at level 9 or 10.  You will soon realize that certain macronutrients like protein and healthy fats, keep you satiated for longer periods and sugar makes you hungry sooner, so you can adjust accordingly.  But the key to weight loss, the one thing you must do, is to ignore other people's advice and learn how to manage your own hunger.

Learn to Push Your Own Limits​

Are you waiting till the 13th rep to feel the burn?  Why are you wasting 90 percent of your workout time on reps that aren't maximally stimulating new muscle fibers in new dimensions?  If you're not breathless and feeling the burn on the first rep, your reps are too easy.

If you're not breathless and feeling the burn on the first rep, your reps are too easy.

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​That advice might fly in the face of conventional workout rhetoric.  But, look around - are most people getting results that are worthy of the effort they're exerting?  Would you be happy with results that are the average of your fellow gym members?  I'm guessing the answer is NO.

​You've probably been taught to exhaust your muscle fibers with repetitive, linear, isolation moves 12-15 reps at a time.  But why settle for someone else's arbitrary number or measure of intensity when you have your own built-in signal that comes direct from your own muscle fibers?

​The problem is that nobody's ever taught you how to identify your own limits and push through them.  The burn you feel after doing multiple reps is from muscle exhaustion, but you can get to that burn much quicker by stimulating new muscle fibers in new dimensions rather than just repetitively stimulating the same ones over and over.  Try these killer planks and feel the burn with the first rep!

Superman plank give you maximal lengthening of the psoas muscle in an isometric contraction, sculpting a long, lean side view.

Superman plank gives you maximal lengthening of the psoas muscle in an isometric contraction, sculpting a long, lean side view.

Crescent side plank uses the deltoid, lats, and biceps as opposing muscle groups to eccentrically lengthen the psoas muscle.

Crescent side plank uses the deltoid, lats, and biceps as opposing muscle groups to eccentrically lengthen the psoas muscle.

​In order to achieve this level of intensity, you need to incorporate at least one challenge move, one that is outside your comfort zone, into your workout every day.  Not only does this approach help keep boredom at bay and maintain motivation, but it will also help you recognize exactly where your limits are so you can motivate yourself by pushing through them.

Right now you are accepting the limitations that other people are placing on you.  ​This is a sure-fire recipe for mediocre results.

Standard crunches. like most exercises you've learned at the gym, bulk up your psoas muscle, giving your profile

These Crunches are too easy with core stabilization and since they are a mid-range move they bulk-up the mid-psoas fibers and make your belly bulge

Try these instead - since only the tailbone is anchored they engage the obliques and transversus muscles, also, maximal psoas length sculpts a lean, shredded side view

If it doesn’t suck we don’t do it.

Navy SEAL David Goggins

In his book, Living with a SEAL​, Jesse Itzler tells the story of how Navy SEAL ​David Goggins shocked him out of a fitness rut by challenging him to do 100 pull-ups, which he did, a few at a time. Goggins' "40% Rule" states that when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done. And he had a motto: If it doesn’t suck we don’t do it.

Try moves every day that stimulate new muscle fiber in new dimensions and you will quickly see the results in lean, toned, defined muscle.  I've included a few suggestions to get you started:

The superhero crunch maintains a powerful isometric contraction of the deep core and the surface abdominals, laser-focusing all your efforts and time on hyper-defining the lines and angles you want to see in the mirror

The superhero crunch maintains a powerful isometric contraction of the deep core and the surface abdominals, laser-focusing all your efforts and time on hyper-defining the lines and angles you want to see in the mirror

Standard squats are core-stabilized, repetitive, linear isolation moves that don't activate the maximum number of gluteal fibers

Standard squats are core-stabilized, mid-range, repetitive, linear isolation moves that don't activate the maximum number of gluteal fibers

Superhero squat stimulates the entire length of gluteal fibers and incorporates side wobble to maximize upper and lower fiber stimulation

Superhero squat stimulates the entire length of gluteal fibers and incorporates side wobble to maximize upper and lower fiber stimulation

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Sleep When It's Dark​

Sleep is calorie-free energy.  You're not getting enough of it and the effect on your metabolism, fat storage and energy burn are preventing you from reaching your fitness goals.  Going to sleep an hour earlier will do more for your fitness level than spending that hour on the treadmill - seriously.

According to an NIH study, we are chronically sleep deprived. The number of prescriptions for sleep medication increased from 5 million in 1999 to more than 20 million in 2010.

sleep is just as important to weight loss as exercise and healthy eating, according to this review of 36 studies involving over 600,000 individuals.

​The Earth comes with a built-in sleep timer - called darkness - and a built in alarm clock - called sunrise.  Humans evolved over hundreds of millennia to be active in daylight and sleep in periods of darkness.  Then about 150 years ago we started lighting up the night with electricity.

Your brain measures the intensity and color spectrum of light entering your eye and sets your wake signal to daylight exposure. Indoor light is less intense than outdoor light and we spend much of our day indoors.  Bright daylight anchors your wake rhythm, and when you don’t get enough of it, your wake rhythm shifts. Then you get too much artificial light at night. So, living in the modern world causes a double-whammy—too little light during the day and too much light at night—shifting our wake rhythm forward.​  For more details see this Article by Daniel Pardi

​A growing body of evidence shows that light pollution exacerbates, and might directly cause, cancer, obesity, and depression.

If you could take a pill tonight that would improve your athletic performance tomorrow, would you?  Try going to sleep at least an hour earlier.

I was blown away by the results of the sleep study performed on the Stanford basketball team. For five weeks the team slept 10 hours per night instead of their usual 8 and the measured performance results were dramatic. Shooting percentages increased by more than 9% and their 80-meter sprints were more than half-a-second faster. Wow!

Sleep deprivation may also be the reason you're not losing weight. Lack of sleep makes your hunger hormones go all cattywampus - turning off the "I'm full" signal and pumping out more ghrelin and endocannabinoids, which make you eat more. It also increases insulin resistance and the stress hormone cortisol that makes you store more belly fat. That extra hour of sleep may actually be better for your waistline than an hour at the gym.

Oh yeah, one more thing - good quality sleep makes you happier and smarter. And it's free!

So here's the quickest, easiest, cheapest way to get leaner, smarter, happier, and fitter - go to sleep earlier.

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