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PODCAST: 5 Rules for Getting Fit for the Rest of Your Life

rules for getting in shapeWhen it comes to getting in shape, it can often feel like there are an infinite number of paths to take. There are so many different ways to lean out and slim down that it can often feel overwhelming. Most of us have been on some form of yo-yo diet and can recall vividly the cravings, the sacrifices, and the disappointment when the weight either didn’t fall off, or came right back a couple of months later.

Today, we’re talking about the 5 rules for getting fit for the rest of your life. These aren’t necessarily the perfect food, nutrition plan, supplement, or exercise; rather, they’re the 5 rules you need to follow if you want to achieve actual longterm success on your fitness journey.

Oscar and I were never huge or morbidly obese guys, but we both grew up with extra pudge. We also (especially me) noticed that we were working on quite an excellent Dad-Bod physique. This is no bueno. I’m not a dad, and I work very hard to prevent Dad Jeans in my client styling, so I shouldn’t be skipping out on the fitness aspect and nurturing a Dad-Bod, right?

Exactly.

We explore our journeys to better fitness, our workouts, our nutrition, or motivation, and what keeps us on track to continue improving. You don’t want to miss these 5 rules for getting in shape.  Take a listen:

Show Notes

blake-before-afters
Blake (worst picture in college) lost weight AND hair.

As I stated above, neither myself or Oscar were ever huge, obese guys. My before and afters show that I was always a little rounder and seemed to be working on my Dad-Bod from an early age. The truth is, while men have a significantly easier time being chubbier than the ladies do, many of us still wrestle with body image trying to be a better, more fit version of ourselves. The ladies have millions of images and messages coming at them from the media all the time, telling them they’re too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, etc. Men… well, we have far less of it. As long as we stay off instagram, we can kinda live in ignorant bliss.

Oscar played soccer and was a bigger guy, noticing early on that he was skinny fat when looking at his teammates. They were lean and mean and he just…wasn’t. I had a similar path. I didn’t play sports, but I was an active kid – BMX was my drug. I must have put a thousand miles on my mike every summer. It kept me relatively thin, but not in any kind of shape. In middle school, we both had experiences where some other kid made us aware of our bodies, and BOOM – it was committed to memory.

What do you do when you want to get in better shape? What’s the best way to make it happen? Do you need a trainer? Should you eat only celery and run 5 miles every morning? What if you only at foods that began with the letter R? –– No matter what path you choose to lose weight and lean out, here are the 5 indisputable rules for getting in shape:

1. Mind your Mental Game

Truly, more important than anything else, your mental game must be strong to succeed. You cannot just wake up one day and start working out and turn into a fitness model. There will be sacrifices in foods, events, get-togethers, hard work, and days you want to quit. Make sure you know what the hell you’re doing all this for.

Write out WHY you want to be in better shape. Then write out what you are committed to doing to make it happen. Here’s what I mean:

  • I want to fit into my clothes better and build confidence to talk to women / have a more successful love life
  • I will commit to working out 3 days each week (do not go crazy and commit to 6+ days)
  • I will commit to follow a strict nutritional plan (allow yourself a cheat meal here and there, not a cheat day)
  • I will hire a nutritionist or coach to help me with my meal plans (even a once per month meeting will help)
  • I will hire a personal trainer to help with my workout plans (just twice per month will help)

Dig a little deep and discover the real reason you’re committing to get in shape. Men are just as vain as women, but we’re wired a little different, so the reason we want something may not be as easy to discern at first. If you don’t know WHY you’re doing this, you’re going to fail. You’re going to quit, and you’re going to make excuses. You can do better than that, my friend.

“I want to look good in my clothes.” / “I want to be healthy enough to play with my kids without needing a break.” / “I want to kick up my confidence and take on the world.” / “I don’t want to end up like my (fill in the blank) who died too early.” / “I want a six pack for my beach wedding.”

Discover you why and put it front and center. When you want to quit –and trust me, you will want to– remember why you started and what you’re working toward. All rules for getting in shape begin with your mental game.

2. Reconcile Your Relationship with Food

Oscar certainly leaned.
Oscar certainly leaned out.

The only way you’re going to reach the weight, health, strength, and fitness goals you have is through proper nutrition. Unless your weight goal is to weigh the most of anyone in the area, you cannot eat whatever you want and expect to burn it off or turn it into something it’s not. As you change the way you eat, you may discover yourself cheating in certain circumstances. I, for one, will admit I’m an emotional eater. Are you?

If you find yourself getting frustrated and declaring, “screw it” and ordering a pizza? After a long or particularly trying day, do you find yourself saying no to the gym and yes to nachos and beer with the guys at the bar? Relationship problems – do you find yourself eating things that are great tasting, but terrible for you?

In my last relationship, it was easy to see I was an emotional eater. When things were good, I was in better shape. When we were arguing a lot or the relationship was stressful, I was heavier. I frequently turned to comfort foods like pizza, pasta, wings, fried…everything. It was not good. Now it’s your turn.

In order to reach your health and fitness goals, you need to reconcile your relationship with food. You’re going to be removing some foods from your routine, but you’ll also be adding new foods in their place. Replacement is a much better idea than just straight-up removal. We all have emotional attachment to the foods we eat and the way those foods make us feel. Get clear on what food does for you, and make a commitment to change the nature of your relationship with it. Food is fuel, not a hug when you’re lonely. It’s fuel, not a punching bag when you’re upset. Food is fuel. That’s all it is.

3. Work work work work work

Decide on your preferred workout for your goals. A great way to figure that out is to meet with a personal trainer and come up with a plan. Hiring a trainer for the longterm can get pretty expensive, but meeting once a twice each month to cover goals and progress is cheap and well worth it. Some people like to run and do a lot of cardio. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it won’t build strength or get you the James Bond body you may want. How do you do that? Weights.

Weight lifting is hands-down the best thing you can do for your body. Whether it’s a 5×5 program, a three day split, or some other variation, strength training will build lean muscle, and lean muscle is what burns fat. I know there will be disagreements, and I am only sharing common knowledge that weights are better than cardio. But the sweet spot? That’s strictly our opinion, so to each his own.

Our sweet spot: High Intensity Interval Training [HIIT]

rules for getting in shapeI personally like to run, so I’ll knock out a 3 mile run once or twice a week. It’s not really part of my workout plan, but it makes me feel good. My training consists of kettlebell and bodyweight workouts in short, timed bursts, and calculated rest times. Kettlebell swings in an interval of 10 swings, 30 seconds of rest, repeat for 150 total swings will take you a little over 11 minutes to do, and it will burn more calories and fat over the next few hours than 25 solid minutes of working the elliptical like it owes you money.

Oscar began his journey with P90X, a program built around the HIIT and bodyweight principle. You can make a LOT of gains by simply working your body in burst intervals of work and rest. Not only can you gain strength, but you burn more fat and muscle when you compare it to steady-state cardio like running.

Regardless of what you choose to do, get with a professional to put together a workable game plan and stick to it. Then, make sure you follow-up with the #4 rule:

4. Ask for Accountability

The absolutely best way to make sure you’re on target to reach a goal (any goal) is to have someone or something in place to hold you accountable. I began my transformation because I wanted a better body for my wedding, but also because BodyBuilding.com was hosting their annual $250k Challenge, and I wanted to see if I had what it takes to win. Each week I had new challenges and homework to post to my profile. Most of the time they were simply pictures or comments, but I couldn’t miss one because the community was all working together and I didn’t want to give up and be that guy. I updated measurements each month, I posted updates and progress pictures, and I kept myself on track.

Oscar began with P90X and followed it to the letter, meal plan and all. He held himself accountable because he wanted to boost his confidence and improve his social and love life. P90X also has an online community where you can share your progress and get input from other members trying to reach their respective goals too. Whether you’re a solo project or lifting with a partner, find a way to be held accountable to someone or something.

Even though I’m currently doing this for myself and tracking it on my own now (I didn’t win the $250k contest), Jami still gives me shit when I suggest we order a pizza or get dessert when we go out. I don’t appreciate it in the moment, but I definitely know she’s helping me stay on track.

5. Track your Progress

rules for getting in shapeRounding out the top five rules for getting in shape, is to track everything. Record your workouts so you know what your lifting weight looks like, and update is as you go along to see how you’re improving. Track your weight and body measurements from the beginning to see what changes have occurred. Most importantly, though, track your nutrition. Record everything you eat.

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to track what you do on a daily basis. There’s literally an app for almost everything. The app leading the pack in meal tracking on both the iOS and Android platforms is My Fitness Pal. It’s free, and it has millions of meals already plugged into the app. You can scan barcodes of your groceries and it will import the food and nutritional information into the app instantly.

You can track everything you eat so you know what your macros (protein, carbohydrates, fat, sodium, etc.) and you caloric intake looks like each day. You’ll be able to see what you’re doing right and what you’re struggling with. I don’t care so much about my calories because my personal way of eating is more macro-based. I make sure my fat, protein, and carb counts are in the right places and eat when I’m hungry. Oscar follows KinoBody and uses the right macros and intermittent fasting to keep his body and nutrition in check.

No matter what path you choose, get someone or something to help you get a plan set up and hold you accountable to working that plan, and begin recording and tracking everything you eat, lift, weight, and measure. You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you are and where you’ve been. Tracking your progress is sometimes the only thing that gets you through the moments you want to quit.

6. BONUS

You will want to quit.

Don’t.

Reach out and ask for help. Force yourself to go to the gym instead of the fast food joint. Get a friend to join you. Do what you have to do because this time, finally, you’re going to reach that fitness goal. You can do it. It’s your time. This is your year. Get it!

– Blake & Oscar

What motivates you to do or push ahead when you want to quit?
If you have a story of your own, please share it in the comments below.

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The Author

Blake Hammerton

Blake Hammerton

Blake Hammerton is the founder and coach at The Sharp Gentleman, and helps men earn more respect while gaining confidence in who they are. He is a certified relationship coach and loves writing about men's fashion, style, character-building, relationships, travel, adventure, and more.

  • rickyxoxo

    Exercise is definitely important for a healthy lifestyle. The most important thing with exercising is regularity. Try and exercise at least three times a week for thirty minutes when starting out and increase your workouts as you get used to it. I try to work out four times a week for 45 minutes and as much as I don’t always achieve this, the important thing is I never give up.

    • Hey Ricky,

      I completely agree – especially with the last sentence. You never give up. I work out 4-5 days each week, but used to hit 6 days earlier this year. I’ve gotten much busier recently, and I’ve also found that I make more excuses for why I can’t get in the gym. It’s a constant exercise in remembering my “why” for working out. I will one day (soon) get that elusive six pack. I just have to keep pushing and making time for it.

      Keep up the good fight, my friend.

      – Blake