Wellbeing

The Key To Health And Fitness Is Simpler Than You Think

The Cusp fitness expert and founder of Sydney-based personal training program, PHAT Fit, James Anderson, is here to burst your bubble. He has no problem letting you know what’s actually holding you back from reaching your goals.

How many times over the years have you said that you’ll ‘start again Monday’? If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say the majority of people reading this have said those words more often than they’d like to admit; we’ve all been there.

You get hyped up and motivated for the first three or so days of a new regime – a week if you’re lucky – and then voilà, just like magic, all the spinach you’d be stuffing in your face somehow morphed into a wine glass and a block of chocolate. You regrettably realise that it was just too hard. But why?

After more than a decade of working as a personal trainer, it’s become blatantly clear that the answer is simple. Or rather: simplify.

If you’ve ever struggled with getting the results you want, you’re probably overthinking things. Maintaining your health shouldn’t be something you need to ‘figure out’ or rationalise. If it’s getting that way, it’s time to dial it back and keep it simple.

Here’s how to do just that.

Step #1: Understand that there’s no such thing as a magic pill

Marketers will never stop trying to make you believe that their product will fix all of your problems. Whether it’s a vibrating plate you lie on whilst you’re sleeping, or a new superfood found in the deepest Amazonian jungle, it’s always the same: “Whatever your problem, our product will fix it”.

This idea is attractive because it hooks into our desires for instant gratification and fast results in a world where that’s pretty much the norm. But when it comes to achieving health goals, it’s frustratingly not the case. We know in our heart-of-hearts that there’s no such thing as a magic pill, but it doesn’t seem to stop us living in the hope that maybe there is.

Let’s clear this up once and for all: it’s up to you to make the change you’d like to see in your life.

Step #2: Take responsibility and cut the BS

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It’s up to you.

The sooner you take full responsibility for your health, the sooner you’ll get the results you want. As I’ve said, nothing external to you will change things, only you can.

It’s so easy to switch off responsibility and start playing the blame game, isn’t it? No time, no money, no equipment… the list goes on. But these are just excuses which help sugar coat the BS you’re trying to feed yourself in order to rationalise away your guilt.

So in the spirit of cutting the BS I’m going to tell it to you straight: there are people that have less than you (i.e. time, money, resources), and those same people have achieved more than you. The only difference is that they made it a non-negotiable priority. You should, too.

Step #3 Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill

You’d think it would be pretty simple, right? Eat quality food, exercise regularly, drink water, get adequate sleep and then enjoy some naughty treats from time to time.

To be honest, it really should be that simple – it’s just that humans seem to enjoy making it hard.

Adding to the impression that we already believe exercise and healthy eating needs to be confusing to be effective, I often hear people talk themselves out of getting back into training before they even begin by throwing around random statements like these ones:

“I need new gym shoes.”
“The weather isn’t warm enough, I might catch a cold.”
“I don’t want to get up early as my cat gets angry when I wake him.”

If you’re just trying to get started exercising and eating well again, do you really think you need a fancy exercise schedule, diet plan and new clothes? And let’s be honest, do you even own a cat?

It’s literally as simple as getting off your arse and taking the first step towards a healthier you. Ignore the random thoughts and excuses, and simplify. It’s just some activity.

Start to move the body and eat better foods and I promise you that if you do it with enough consistency, there will be a snowball effect into the rest of your life.

Step #4 Stop searching; start doing 

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It can be as simple as choosing to walk instead of drive or get transport somewhere.

We’re always looking for the next best thing; searching high and low for the things that tickle our fancy when it comes to exercise, or tantalise our tastebuds when it comes to food.

However, for the most part, these routines and recipes – despite looking great on paper – can often be hard to implement when you try to force them into an already hectic life.

If you have the time and motivation, then sure, these options can be amazing to try, but again, it doesn’t have to have 37 different ingredients or exercises for it to be good for you – a piece of fish, asparagus and a big green salad, along with a walk around the park would work just fine, too.

Just make small healthy choices as often as you can.

Step #5 Know that the best plan is the one that works for you

I know, I know, there are just so many diets and exercise plans out there, so which one is the best?

The answer is again a simple one – the one that works best for you. Although these diet and exercise plans are most likely marketed as being the ‘best’, what many fail to mention is best for who.

If you can’t fit it into your life, then it’s not even worth the paper it’s written on. It’s right for you if it gets you the results you want and can be maintained over the long term.

I suggest that when you’re looking to start a new program/regime/diet, that you’re honest with yourself as to whether it’s something that you could merge into your lifestyle with as little ruffling of the feathers as possible. While there will always be an adjustment period, it shouldn’t feel like your life has been flipped upside down, as that will only cause you to give up sooner.

Your challenge

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If you’ve been struggling with your diet and exercise and would like a bit of a challenge, here’s one for you:

For the next 30 days I’d like you to think less about having to know all the details or have all of the things, and instead make a commitment to consistency: just move the body and be more aware of what you’re eating.

This may only mean you change from doing nothing each week to walking three times a week, and cooking dinner each night rather than getting takeaway.

From small changes, come big things.

So stop saying that you’ll start again Monday ­– just get back on the horse! It’s simple, remember?


James Anderson has combined over 10 years’ experience as a personal trainer with a background in NLP coaching and a couple of near death experiences to develop a very unique outlook on life. As a result he speaks, presents and writes no BS content in the hope that he can help others find their long-term personal health and happiness solution. He is the founder of Sydney-based female group training program PHAT Fit, and writes for Buro24/7 and Sportluxe. Find him on Instagram or Facebook.