Fitness Tips and Observations From My First 40 Years

September 14, 2009

Instead of doing a post analyzing a scientific study, I wanted to make a list of random fitness tips that came to my head when thinking about staying in shape and eating well, etc.

These are just some observations I’ve made over the past 39 years. I don’t turn 40 for another 3 months, but close enough. I am hoping to start this little brainstorming list and have people reading this, add to the list in the comment section.

fitness tips

[I like to think of posting an article on the Internet as sending a message in a bottle. It is crazy where the info winds up. I send out from my apartment in Seattle and within days it is found in many remote areas throughout the world. I really love the whole concept.]

So This is Just a Random List of Fitness Tips & Observations

I will need your help to keep this list growing. It will be fun to see what others have to add. I enjoy the interactive posts the best and I am hoping this one gets 100+ comments pretty quickly.

I also realize that you may or may not agree with everything I’ve written here…and that is fine…I don’t agree 100% with anyone when it comes to health and fitness.

Here goes…

Many people workout hard, but sabotage their efforts by eating too much.This one kills me, because I hate seeing wasted effort. Also, if people don’t see results they will eventually quit exercising. It is such an easy fix, which makes this even more frustrating.

There is no magic workout routine.
I spend a lot of my time posting articles on other sites about celebrity workout routines, simply because celebrities get a lot of search engine traffic.

My goal is to funnel some of that traffic to my site. Many of the routines these actors and actresses follow kind of suck, to put it bluntly…but they devote so many hours per week in the gym that they can’t help but get results.

Knowing “WHY” a routine works is better than copying a routine. If you understand why the principles in a routine work, you can tweak that routine so it is more effective for you.

Eventually you should become your own personal trainer. It is great to see step-by-step programs, but I would recommend using those programs as a guideline and then adjust to make it the ideal routine for you.

Learn about fitness from multiple sources. I don’t think you will get a realistic view on any subject if you have just one teacher. Think about becoming a doctor or lawyer…you learn from many many teachers to compare and contrast beliefs.

Same with health and fitness…there isn’t one individual who knows everything.

Beware of so-called fitness experts who claim to know it all. Our knowledge in health and fitness is growing just like any other field. There are literally thousands of people adding to the “collective knowledge” of fitness on an ongoing basis.

Experts who are stubborn and refuse to consider other alternatives get left in the past. I do my best to learn from people to who I believe are on the “cutting edge” of this industry. I also recommend those people to readers of my site.

lance armstrong kettlebells
Sometimes low tech is better than high tech when it comes to fitness equipment. About 10 years ago I was convinced that you couldn’t get in top shape and get extremely ripped unless you had access to a gym. I was certainly wrong on that one!

In fact after being stubborn for so many years, I am introducing a kettlebell workout aimed at fat loss into my routine. Kettlebells are almost as low tech as you get. I also do body weight only routines each week…so that is NO-tech!

Being in great shape in your 20’s isn’t a big deal. Don’t get me wrong, there are some people who get in impressive shape at a young age and it does take work, but it is pretty common. What is less common is people who stay in great shape in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond.



Staying in great shape in your 30’s and beyond is easy.
You don’t become overweight overnight. If you make a rule to stay within 10 pounds of your ideal weight, you will be lean for life. If your ideal weight is 130 and you suddenly creep up to 145, then do what it takes at that point to get back “within range”.

This is a simple formula for never becoming overweight. If you are overweight now, then you will benefit by implementing this rule going forward.

There is nothing more boring than someone who is obsessed with fitness. This tip probably sounds funny coming from someone with a busy fitness blog. My philosophy is get fit and figure out a way to look and feel great without it taking over your life.

Life is WAY too short to devote too much time and energy in the pursuit of being fit. If “working out” is your only activity…then you are probably not a very interesting person!

hot wings

Every fit person I know eats so called “bad” foods from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, about 4-5 days of the week I eat low-cal. Two days out of the week I do “Eat Stop Eat” style fasts…but I am not someone who pretends to live on chicken breasts and veggies.

I eat pizza, Mexican food, Thai food, buffalo chicken wings, etc…just like most of you. I also think that beer is the drink of the gods!

You can look better with less effort simply by eating less. I drill this point home over and over and over, because it is the truth. I am now experimenting with 3 weekly workouts per week and it is working well.

I look the same as I did when I was hitting the gym 4-5 times per week. I simply eat less calories throughout the week…the added benefit is a cheaper grocery bill and I have more energy to do outdoor activities.

We all probably need to walk more. I did a post about how walking is necessary, even if you are fit and workout hard. I used to think walking was only for people who weren’t fit enough to do regular exercise and I was wrong!

Being sore isn’t an indicator of a great workout. When I was younger I used to think that being sore meant that I really blasted the muscles. Being sore from time to time is fine, but is not a way to go through life.

Also…when I reduced the volume and avoided “blasting my muscles” is when I became exceptionally strong in many lifts that I struggled at for years.

Being sore doesn’t mean that you should eat more. Many people believe they need to increase their calories to repair the damaged muscles. This is a quick way to gain fat along with muscle and is a mistake I see on a regular basis.

Protein Obsession is the #1 reason more people in the gym aren’t lean. If guys and girls stopped worrying about how many grams of protein they got each day they would be less likely to over-eat each day.

The day I quit worrying and counting grams of protein, was when I found out how easy it is to be lean year round.

Short and intense efforts make your workouts more efficient. Your time on this planet is limited, so why not get the same amount of benefit in 1/2 the time? You will find examples of people who are in great shape who workout 6 times per week for 1.5 hours per workout…but why model an inefficient person?

Looking “perfect” isn’t the goal. In my opinion the most attractive people are those who look fit without looking like they try too hard. People like surfers, tennis players, beach volleyball players have a great look…because they look healthy while having other hobbies.

A slim and lean body that is the result of a smart diet and being active looks much better than 90% of the fitness models in most magazines.

james bond
The men and women in James Bond movies got it right! I think the men and women in Bond movies have the ideal look for men and women. Everyone looks fit, but they don’t have the “gym feel” to them. Do you know what I mean?

They all look great in stylish clothes or on the beach, they travel, live life, have good food and drinks, etc. Forget the men and women in fitness magazines!

Bodybuilders and typical gym rats have terrible fashion sense. Spandex, cut tank tops, baggy bodybuilder “clown pants”, and fanny packs are NOT okay…ever! Luckily I see this behavior less and less than I used to, but every now and then I will jump over to a bodybuilding blog where this look is alive and well!

Forget every fashion you have ever seen in a typical muscle publication…pick up a copy of a Bond film or Oceans 11 or something. Sweats should only be worn in the home and possibly at the gym if they are nice, but never out in the real world (just trying to help).

I have GREAT respect for anyone who is trying to lose weight. I don’t care how big they are. It takes guts to go to go out in public and exercise if you have a lot of weight to lose. I have deep respect for anyone who confronts their demons and does what is necessary to improve their life.

My hope is that I can help them reach their ideal weight quickly to begin living life to the fullest.

 

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Sylvest September 18, 2009 at 7:41 am

I can see where Katelyn is coming from. Certainly the Inuit and other populations have done just fine on diets consisting mostly of animal food. Only now, with the introduction of a ‘western’ diet into their communities and a shift from traditional foods are we seeing rising rates of chronic diseases and other poor health outcomes among these people.

However, I try to eat Primal as much as possible and include lots of vegetables, some fruit and no grains in my meals so that I am getting the benefit of those foods as well.

Patrick, the butter won’t hurt your chances of getting ripped, but eating too many carbs, which spike your insulin and stimulate fat storage, will. Everyone works differently, but in my own experience I know I drop body fat easily when I stay away from the grains for a few days and look noticeably ‘puffier’ when I do eat them.

Jason G September 18, 2009 at 3:02 pm

I know that it might seem natural for many primal eaters to defend Katelyn, but let me remind you that both Loren Cordain and Mark Scission want you to eat both vegetables and fruits in “abundance”. Saturated fat aside, Katelyn is ignoring common knowledge about antioxidants, fiber, and other healthy fats. These three topics have not been disputed by any nutritional experts including Mark and Loren.

Furthermore we do not live in the primal age anymore. Instead we live in a polluted environment which results in our body being exposed to probably two hundred times more the free radicals than our ancestors did. Similarly the animals are different. So primal eaters(among others) should be eating more antioxidant rich foods then our ancestors. Its also important to remember that the Inuit eat high amounts of sea food not red meat. Sea food has a healthier profile then red meat including the much beloved omega 3’s which lower part of the cholesterol from their diet. Inuit women are currently living 14 years less long that the average Canadian woman.

The thing that eventually turned me off from the primal diet is the realization that there appears to be know evidence that this diet is healthy. In fact all evidence links red meat consumption to lower life spans. Similarly instead of championing healthy meat sources like fish and perhaps wild game many of you use this diet to enjoy fatty steaks. The protein in milk, eggs, and even quinoa are of better quality than meat. B12 is the only vitamin that seems to be an asset of meat, and of course this can be obtained very easily from sea foods, eggs, yogurt, brewers yeast, bee pollen, and even a red bull. The truth is that red meat should not be the main source of a persons diet because it is not a nutrient dense food(Per calorie there is little nutrients). The saturated fat would be better obtained from nuts, coconut oil, and dark chocolate. The saturated fat in these foods is healthier. So, for the health conscious, if the body absorbs the protein from other foods better and the fat from other foods is healthier than why would anyone who cares about their health base a whole diet around heavy meat consumption.

Patrick September 18, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Jason,
The majority of my protein consumption comes from the following: xtra lean turkey, grilled skinless chicken breasts, white albacore tuna,beans, nuts, occasionally xtra lean ground beef cooked well done. I don’t drink any milk or dairy products, get my calcium from broccoli and spinach. What do you think about the mercury in the white albacore tuna, do you think approx 3 serving a week of it is too much as far as the mercury is concerned?

Jason G September 18, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Patrick,

From what I have heard there seems to be a correlation between genetics and how your body absorbs and retains mercury. Some people will reject it out of their body better. I am not an expert on the subject but will say that canned Alaska salmon has a similar taste to canned tuna and is higher in Omega 3’s and lower in mercury. You can get sockeye salmon for a couple of bucks per can. Sardines are also a very low mercury fish. I like eating them whole but I also throw them in my salads.

Katelyn September 18, 2009 at 10:01 pm

I am eating healthy fats: saturated and monounsaturated. You would not argue that polyunsaturated and vegetable fats are healthy?

Every study that has been done to try to “force” the issue of how healthy fruits and vegetables are have been a failure–embarrassing to researchers. Look at the famous Framingham Nurses’ Study, where those who ate the MOST saturated fat had the lowest incidences of heart disease, and lowest weights.

There are no long term studies on the healthiness of fiber. It is deleterious.

I say this as someone who was vegetarian up until LAST year. I don’t just go to every whim diet. Zero Carb has been tested. Is anyone here going to step forth and say there is a human REQUIREMENT for carbohydrates? Not even carb defenders who are scientists will argue that. You will die without water, fats and protein, but you thrive without carbs.

CHUCK!! September 19, 2009 at 3:57 am

BAGGY CLOWN PANTS ROCK DUDE!!!! KEEP THE MULLETS, OAKLEY SUNGLASSES, FANNY PACKS, SWEATY BANDANNAS, AND NEON COLORED TANK TOPS IN BODYBUILDING!!!!!!!!!! WHATCHA GONNA DO BROTHER..WHEN MY 24INCH PYTHONS RUN WILD ON YOU!!!!!!!!!

RRRRRRAAAAAAAAWWW!!!! I NEED MORE ROIDS!!! MORE GROWTH HORMONE!!!! GONNA DOWN A 6000 CALORIE WEIGHT GAIN SHAKE SO I CAN BENCH 780 POUNDS!! HEAR I AM….ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANE!!!!

Baz September 19, 2009 at 7:14 am

I totally agree that eating vegeagbles will get you closer to your goal of low bf levels but what kind of effect will fruits have? In terms of nutrients you can’t go past fruits and vegetables, but how does the natural sugar in fruits affect diets?

Helder September 19, 2009 at 9:21 am

At Katelyn:

There’s a reason why you need fruits and vegetables, the reason is vitamines and minerals, you can’t get them all from protein and fat sources.

About the rest i agree in part with you, but we need some carbs to survive, our brain needs sugar to function, and our liver too.

What i defend is a low carb diet, never a zero carb, it all should be balanced

Ogg the Caveman September 19, 2009 at 11:17 am

Patrick,

A little fat (of the saturated kind) won’t hurt you, and may help you. If you’re avoiding fat from animal, then I assume you’re getting some from, at the very least, nuts and olive oil. But really, look into the importance of saturated fats. It’s been a staple of our diets for 2.5 million years.

Baz September 19, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Once you get past the stage of trying to get your bf% down and into a maintenance phase can you go back to eating higher carbs? Ad long as you burn off what you ingest it should be ok yeah? Cause I gotta say as much as people try to make eating low carb exciting, it absolutely sucks. I really miss eating
actuall food. I mean chicken and meat is good yeah but
I can’t wait till I can eat bread and rice With it again without worrying how many carbs it has. Or eating a meal which is different to what ive been eating the last 3 weeks wihout needing to calculate how many calories it makes up. I’m all for high protein but I just love carbs cause they add something to an otherwise boring meal. Oh I miss bread.

Baz September 19, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Actually it’s not so much that I can’t at all but when you don’t see results as fast as you’d like then it’s the bread and rice which you need to be cutting not the chicken.

Jason G September 19, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Katelyn,

Helder said everything that needed to be said. If you eat like a caveman you will think like a caveman. Fiber helps you eat carbs without the big sugar spikes. Carbs fuel your brain. Not to mention that many hormones(for mood example) require the balancing of carbs and proteins,etc. If we were meant not to eat carbs than our body would not have a complex system for dealing with carbs. People can live on meat and they will be very lean, but they will have nutritional deficiencies just like vegetarians that do not eat smartly will also have nutritional deficiencies. Balancing the macro nutrients is the key to good health.

M0L September 19, 2009 at 10:44 pm

man..ditto.
and thank you for an amazing website and knowledge.

Katelyn September 20, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Jason:

You are assuming that you can obtain and absorb the so-called vitamins and minerals in carbs (vegetables and fruits). It is well known that consuming carbohydrates CAUSES the need for increased Vitamin C. If one did not consume carbs, one would not need to eat the carbs to correct the deficiencies caused by them.

Best,
Katelyn

Jason G September 20, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Katelyn,

This statements was taken directly from the Framingham Study website and represents their current conclusion:

Over the years, careful monitoring of the Framingham Study population has led to the identification of the major CVD risk factors — high blood pressure, HIGH BLOOD CHOLESTEROL, smoking, obesity, diabetes, and physical inactivity — as well as a great deal of valuable information on the effects of related factors such as blood triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels, age, gender, and psychosocial issues.

I believe high cholesterol is linked to high saturated fat consumption(butter and steaks are examples of high saturated fat foods). Fiber is believed to lower cholesterol. Saturated fat is needed by the body but moderation is important. I did not find the part in the study about the people who ate more fat had less cardiovascular disease.

Sekasi_Oz September 20, 2009 at 7:52 pm

This is not so much a fitness tip as a well-being tip.

Every morning I get up from bed I try to do an easy amount of pushups, like 20 or so. Then I do a couple of scissor crunches on the bed and finish with like 20-30 mountain climbers.

I feel _spectacular_ throughout the day. That tiny amount of body exertion in the morning just kickstarts my metabolism and in general how good I feel.

Try it out for a week.

Dana Law September 23, 2009 at 11:45 am

Rusty,
Thanks for the humility. Useful, practical advice but the note that we shouldn’t believe anyone has all the answers to health and fitness hit home. I think most of them are egotists, greedy or mental cases.
Your sensible advice is the best.
Dana Law
San Diego, Ca

Matt September 23, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Love this post Rusty. Love the blog. Here’s my view :

Life is a marathon. Eat some fruit and veg every day, drinks lots of water and get lots of sleep. Everything else will work out fine. If you stumble or pig out, enjoy it. Then wake up the next day and get back on track. Over the years all those instances you chose to eat healthy or didn’t super-size your meal add up.
cheers
matt

mindbodygoal September 24, 2009 at 10:45 am

As ever, a great post Rusty!

Glad to see your giving the kettlebells a go!

I’m sure you will enjoy them.

Best Wishes

Matt

Michael September 27, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Great post! This blog is in my RSS feed but haven’t looked at it much. Then I read the post about “The Rock” slimming down and was amening it all the way. This one is great as well. Thanks.

Michael
Nutrition and Physical Regeneration

Paul September 27, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Rusty, I love your site more and more! I mostly hang out at Mark’s Daily Apple and my primary concern for another few months is weight loss. One of my rants as the subject comes up is the artificial look so many people are striving for. Boob jobs and steroids are just the symptoms of deep psychological issues.

The Bond movie look you refer to is just how we looked when I was a kid. Well, not me, I was skinny as a thread. But good looking men and women were not obsessed as so many people are today. When I was young, a “six pack” meant you needed a “church key!”

Give me a healthy natural look any day. Normal fat on a woman, not women trying to look like men.

And that you dig B&W…….wow.

Kieran September 28, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Hey Rusty,

I loved your ‘things I’ve learned in 39 Years Post’. What a no-nonsense, no-BS post. I totally agree: fitness obsessives are BORING. Protein consumptive are BORING and people who can’t find much else to get worked up about than working out, are BORING! Your site is never boring! Out of the numerous fitness sites I’ve come across, yours is the most spot-on, fun-filled and informative. Way to go!

Tonia October 7, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Hi Rusty,

Any tips for emotional eating? I do ESE, but my emotional eating sabotages me on days I dont.

Thanks

André October 10, 2009 at 9:25 am

I agree with one of the posts that suggests you should weigh yourself everyday. I remember reading about it somewhere (may have been Men’s Health) and it stated that people that weigh themselves on a daily basis are more aware of their weight and tend to ‘manage’ their weight better than those who don’t. There are obviously exceptions to the rule. On the whole though, great post Rusty, you never fail to impress with your experiences – thanks for sharing them!

charles October 12, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Great article, I agree if you look like you try too hard to work out it’s just silly. I want to say get a life to these people. But to each their own. Dig the bond reference, I totally agree.

Aaron October 13, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Rusty,

First time posting on your site and let me say I’m a big fan. I have been on the corporate side of the supplement industry for over a dozen years and I can’t tell you how many times a senior exec has sat in a meeting demanding a magic bullet product so he/she can sell more products. Anyway, I digress.

What I want to add to your 40 years of wisdom (I’m working on 46 years, myself) is that stronger does not mean one is fitter. Being able to curl 125 or bench 300 when one can’t see his feet becuase his belly is in the way does not mean one is fit. I’m a skinny cyclist that loves to weight train and if I had a dollar for every fat boy that came up to me to tell me how to “get in shape”……

Keep up the fight, brother.

Aaron

Dirk Motz Blog November 5, 2009 at 10:04 am

thank you for the fitness tips

Jeff November 23, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Excellent advice.

Bianca November 26, 2009 at 12:36 am

Hi Rusty,
Thank you so much for this blog. I was running miles and miles, not eating much but still overweight, and this was frustrating me. Then I checked this website, and I figured that I had insulin resistivity, I cut all the high GI foods from my diet, did the 3 low carb/high fat -1 high carb/low fat routine, and HIIT and within 2 months I lost 20 pounds! Although my ultimate goal is to be very skinny like hollywood starlets (blame media not me!) I look hot now, and I enjoy life by staying in the 5 pound range. I told my sister what I learned from you and she lost 10 pounds as well (she has been trying to lose weight for years). Thanks again!

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Letitia Cassatt May 17, 2011 at 9:42 am

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