I remember back in high school being talked into taking AP Calculus. Never mind that the entire class didn’t make sense, I somehow ended up passing and sitting down to take the AP exam at the end of the year.
Sitting down to take the test, I start scanning the paper and saw what closely resembles the Matrix on the page with numbers flowing in orderly fashion. Only problem – I wasn’t anywhere close to being Neo.
For those that aren’t familiar, AP exams are graded out of a possible 5 points (or at least they were back in the day when I was taking them). I quickly learned one thing – unlike golf, the lowest score doesn’t win on an AP test.
I remember the last question describing some sort of scenario where I had to determine the optimum trajectory and velocity of a rocket that wanted to blah, blah, blah. I thought about writing “Isn’t this NASA’s problem?” and leaving it at that. I think I settled on drawing a picture of a rocket ship with a guy on top with an arrow pointing to him labeled “rocket man”.
Not surprisingly, I received a 1 on that particular exam – likely because giving me a 0 wasn’t possible since I had spelled my name right.
Needless to say, I wasn’t destined to join the space exploration team up in D.C.
So, I joined the fitness world where it isn’t necessary to count over 15 on most days.
In this age of endless simplification for easier thinking, you’ll constantly hear about the equation for health and fitness.
Writers, trainers, and reporters alike try to make things as simple as possible, boiling optimum fitness down to X steps. Trust me, I’ve written plenty of “X Ways to Do ____” articles. If you pick up any fitness magazine, there’s a good chance that a list story makes the front page.
Why? Because consumers want to read them.
If you see a story titled “5 Steps to Flat Abs”, you’re likely going to flip directly to it because hell, it only takes 5 steps. How simple!
Since I’m a health and fitness professional that claims to be able to shred your midsection and drop pounds like Kate Middleton on a shopping spree, I should have a pretty good grasp on the equation for a flat tummy.
Well, if you gathered anything from the first paragraph, it should have been that complicated math just isn’t my thing. Yet, the majority of my clients (provided they are willing to put in the work) reach their goals.
The Health and Fitness Variables
Like I said above, I don’t like to count over 15, and I sure as hell can’t solve an inverse dynamics problem or an integral. But, I do know how to whip somebody into shape. Here are the factors to consider:
Sleep – I had a conversation the other day with a client that’s experienced tremendous results so far, but wants to knock off a little more around her stomach region. My reply wasn’t about exercises or about diet, but rather about her sleep schedule. Did she feel rested when she woke up in the morning? No. Did she watch TV before bed? Yes. Turn off the electronics and relax before you hit the hay. Don’t worry about getting eight hours. Worry about waking up rested.
Stress² – Yep, that’s stress squared because it’s really damn important. If you’re stressed out right know, it isn’t the optimum time to reach your goals. Sorry to break it to you. You can make steps in the right direction, but in order to fully commit yourself to whatever your goal might be, you need to manage your stress levels. Your body interprets stress in the same manner so working out and a bad day at work are going to seem exactly the same. Ignoring this fact will leave you facedown in bed tired and exhausted.
Support system – Your friends help to dictate you as a person. If they are overweight and lazy, chances are it’s going to be difficult for you to break the trend. Surround yourself with others that are supportive and understanding of your goals.
Movement – Notice I didn’t say exercise. Working out has a bad connotation to many people. Most of America doesn’t want to exercise but they don’t mind moving around a bit. Focus on moving every day whether it’s yoga, walking, or weight lifting. Move more each week until you’re exercising.
Food³ – If you’re shoving crap in your mouth all day, chances are you’re going to look like crap. Improve your food and you’ll improve your body with all other factors remaining the same. Focus on eating vibrant colors with each meal and you’ll be on the right track.
I don’t believe in one general equation to solve all of your health and fitness needs.
It doesn’t make sense. It’s similar to saying that there is one main food everyone should eat for their optimum body. In the quest for simplicity, we attempt to boil everything down to one thought or one message. In the end, it’s really not that simple.
Your body is a complex machine and if anyone ever tells you that they know the secret to health and fitness, you know you’re about to hear a sales speech.
In reality, what we do know is what has worked for us and for others. When working with my clients, I’m relying on education and past experiences with others that have the same goal.
I don’t have the answers to health and fitness, but I have a damn good idea of how to figure your situation out.
Being a fitness expert is similar to being a mathematician: you still don’t know the answers to every equation out there, but given enough time, you could figure it out.
The Take-Home: Your Equation
Your different than everyone else. So, ipso-facto, your variables are going to be slightly different.
Just like an equation can be solved differently every time (which always pissed me off about math), your path to health and happiness is completely different than everyone else’s. So, why boil it down to one particular equation?
Highlight the area that is causing the biggest roadblock to your success.
Is it sleep? That can be an easy fix. Eliminate all of the electronics in your bedroom and leave the bed for sleeping, not watching TV. Go to bed when you’re tired and wake up when you’re rested. At least one day a week, try to wake up without an alarm clock.
Is it food? Forget exercise and master cooking.
Solve one piece at a time and move down the list of variables. Don’t get frustrated. If something doesn’t work, try a new approach just like you did in math class.
Alright, that’s a long enough rant on equations. How would you combine the variables into a cute one-liner? What was your experience in math class? Love it? Hate it? Tell me in the comments below.