Do these sentiments sound familiar? I hear this stuff all the time, and it's one of the many things that drive me batty.
I've been training for over 20 years, and I've been training others for just over a decade, so believe me when I tell you I've heard it all. I know how the average person perceives exercise; I know their good habits and I know their bad habits; I know why most people start and stop exercising; I know the success and failure rates; I know what separates them from me. I know this from experience, and I know this from the abundance of exercise physiology, psychology, behavioural, and epidemiological research.
There's always some new article or book that convinces people of the obscure missing piece to their daily regimen that will magically be the one thing that sends them over the top of whatever obstacle(s) have been keeping them back. But I, as well as the scads of coaches who actually work with people one on one (not just write books or articles), know that those who fail to accomplish their goals, whether fitness-based or otherwise - do so because they neglect the fundamentals, the basics - not the nuances.
Fundamentals account for 90-95% of success, whereas nuances are largely unnecessary components of the bigger picture. A machine can be "finely tuned", but it can nonetheless perform its job as directed without fine tuning. Fine tuning just means it does the job with less wasted energy. The irony when it comes to a goal like weight-loss is that wasted energy IS the goal. The less efficient you are, the more energy you expend, and the more weight you lose. In contrast, getting fitter is a process of becoming more efficient at a given task - whether physically (e.g. stronger muscles move weight easier), or physiologically (e.g. more and larger mitochondria and RBC's allow you to use oxygen more efficiently). This is why, in part at least, you find it difficult to maintain your weight-loss momentum from month to month. You've picked all the low-hanging fruit (the easy weight), and now you have to work a bit harder and/or longer to get more weight off.
If you have a fitness goal, which also accomplishes health goals by proxy, you only need to worry about doing the basics, repeatedly, over a long enough timeline to see your goals through, and with the intent of doing so as best you can while acknowledging that you can always improve:
- Do not overfeed yourself - or starve yourself
- Do not restrict or avoid foods or food groups
- Be active, regularly - but not obsessively
- Get enough sleep
- Avoid "all-or-nothing" attitude towards life
- Pay attention to what you are doing, and learn from your mistakes
- Strive for excellence; do the best you can; do better over time
Do NOT worry about silly, dichotomous thinking and biohacking BS such as:
- Should I eat all my carbs at the start of the day or at the end of the day?
- Should I sleep all at once or take micro-naps through the day?
- Should I eat low carb or low fat?
- Should I go Vegan or Carnivore?
- I should count every calorie...or...Calories don't count if I do this diet!
- Tracking food is obsessive compulsive, so I'm going to intermittent fast instead and create a binge eating disorder - yay!
- I should only do only the BEST exercises, otherwise exercise isn't worth doing!
- I'm 44, overweight, poor diet, high BP, and no training experience or formal guidance in exercise.... time to start training for that marathon and eating only meal replacement shakes!
- I need to eat only low-glycemic carbs, less than 25g at every other meal, across 10 meals per day, between the hours of 12pm and 8pm, paired with only lean or vegan protein, every other day on my rest days where I only do fasted, low-intensity steady-state cardio first thing after I wake up. Unless I'm on a carb load refeed - in which case I eat only 2 meals per day, immediately after my workout if 1 hour or less, otherwise before my workout if 1 hour or more, at 1500 calories each, containing 200g of mixed carbs each meal, with fats as low as possible to speed up gastric emptying and maximally stimulate insulin to "drive nutrients into my cells", along with at least 0.1g per kg/bodyweight of leucine to stimulate muscle protein synthesis from a protein source that is either only lactose free, gluten free, egg-free, free-range, grass-fed, organic, and ethically butchered....unless it's Saturday - in which case YOLO!!!!!!!!
We need to stop this nonsense. These examples are all indicative of behaviour that attempts to circumvent long term commitment to the process, in favour of an easier way to the prize. There isn't one. This is true in life, as well as fitness. For this reason, I find it typical that those who fall for these shortcuts and empty promises of success without effort tend to display a similar kind of half-assed approach to their jobs and home life. Your "new routine" should be seeing your current routine through to the end. Are you bored with progress? If you are bored it's because you're just going through the motions, and in the beginning that was enough to keep you interested. If you're bored it's because you never identified what your goals were, and thus you don't know why you started your routine in the first place. That or you need a reminder - progress is the goal, not entertainment.
How you do fitness, is how you do life, work, and family - "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" - John Wooden