Back to basics: 10 health and fitness essentials

After Googling 'weight loss diet' (180 million results) and 'exercise plan' (500 million results), one thing is clear: there are too many options in making a healthy change. For the consumer, millions of options creates confusion, not health.

When things get complicated, it's always best to go back to the basics… the essentials. Whether your goal is a fun run, weight loss, or bulking up, you need to pay attention to the essentials of health and fitness.

Banish bad habits

If you're playing too many video games, drinking too much, or are generally unproductive, it's time to shift bad habits to good ones. Identify your bad habits and create a strategy to conquer them, or they will conquer your health and future.

Cleanse your kitchen

Get out the sauces, fizzy drinks and juices, processed boxed and canned goods, crisps, biscuits, and sugar cereals. Bring them all together like you're planning a party … then tip them into the bin. You can't be a junk food consumer in a junk-free kitchen. A healthy inventory of food ensures a healthy diet.

Perform simple bodyweight movements

From running to squats and push-ups, understand the essential bodyweight movements that still elicit results. Give me a jump-rope and show me a park with some stairs close by, and I can provide umpteen workouts that will test your body from head to toe. If you're keen to join a gym? Super. Do it, and recognise that amongst all those complicated machines and weights, simple bodyweight movements still work to lean up, increase fitness, and lose a few kilograms.

Commit to an eating plan

Find an eating strategy where food is considered healthy fuel, not the enemy. Diets that promise rapid weight loss with no exercise are … well, my editor won't let me use that word. We all know there are BS diets out there, so ignore them. From Paleo to Mediterranean to fasting, there are some pretty useful eating plans to get healthy that include consuming real foods. Choose what suits your lifestyle, not what has been sold to you.

Avoid scams

I was annoyed on Friday night after receiving an email from quite a high-profile and knowledgeable trainer. After some email ping-pong, he finally made his point – he wanted to debate an article he thought I had written on Isagenix. I don't sell pills and powders to my clients, friends, and family, no matter what some (usually sponsored) scientific study promotes. From Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) schemes to abdominal belts, health and fitness scams are plentiful. You'll weigh less for sure, but primarily in the hip pocket area. Powders and potions are not the key to a healthier Australia. And for what it's worth, I didn't write the article (consumer advocate Choice did), but I do agree 100 per cent with it.

Monitor your progress

I used to be quite chubby back in the days when I was a financial consultant. Now that I'm a personal trainer, I simply monitor my weight with my jeans. If you need a scale to drop kilos? Cool. Jump on it twice a month. Or maybe you fancy an old-school journal, or a higher tech FitBit-like gadget to monitor your movements? That's great, too. Choose a monitoring device that suits your budget to keep you moving towards your goal.

Be patient

I get that you want that body… now. You want to lose weight, now. We live in such a 'now' culture as we demand information, movies, pizza, music, porn, and TV shows – now. With health and fitness? Now is out the door, because patience is what works. If you are willing to commit to a healthier lifestyle for six months, your entire life will change.


Get mentally fit

If your weight or lack of fitness is causing a bit of depression, find ways to avoid the negative. The internet's cliché factory spits out many memes, but one that I found sums it up for me: Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles … it empties today of its strength. Be strong. Stay positive.

Buy new shoes

How good does that new shoes bounce feel? Your feet love it, and new runners deliver a mental spark. It's as if new shoes beg you to get moving. More importantly, quality shoes decrease injuries. The wrong pair leads to foot, Achilles, knee, and hip problems. Quality running stores have treadmills so a running professional or physiotherapist can test your foot shape and running style.  

Get inspired

Australia and New Zealand are hosting the top cricket heroes in the world, yet the most inspirational athlete in the region is Sophie Delezio. Remember her? That gorgeous little girl was struck by a car in her day care centre in 2003 and suffered burns to 85 per cent of her body as well as losing both of her legs … then was again struck at a pedestrian crossing in 2006. She is now 13 years old and waking at 4.30am for Paralympian training. Sophie provides inspiration for us all to lace up our runners early in the morning, eat healthy, and move with just a little more passion.

Sophie shows us that there's nothing we can't do if we put our mind to it. Compared to what she does every day, following the guidelines above sounds pretty simple.

What are the no-compromise health and fitness essentials in your life?

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