It's amazing how life works sometimes. Between Annie's blog, my new circle of contacts, and my ever-changing lifestyle/fitness/training schedule, I've been fielding more questions about weight training, nutrition, and body modification than I have since I left the coaching profession.
Many of the questions I've been hearing regularly revolve around "secrets" to losing weight, getting in shape, winning championships or modifying some negative habit in a current lifestyle. I'd like to start a short series in my rant corner, wrapping up the excuses series Annie started in January.
For anyone with any interest in getting in shape, one key acknowledgment must be made. This acknowledgment will be the jumping-off point for all efforts and will also be the main cause for any excuses as well.
Here's the acknowledgement: The human body is designed and has evolved to be a mechanism for physical work. My Gardner-Webb wrestlers will remember one of my more readily-used statements to them regarding this... that man was designed to walk 50 miles a day and kill saber tooth tigers.
So what does this mean for human beings living and functioning in 2011?
We live in a time where 99% of us eat way too much and do way too little. This is the main reason why most people fail at their long-term fitness goals. People will start an exercise program and question why 45 minutes of general movement does not result in abdominal muscles resembling our caveman ancestors.
There are many of us with desk jobs or careers that don't require any physical activity. Without a committed workout regiment, we may find ourselves in a bad situation where our work and life-related daily energy expenditure is not much higher than the energy expenditure required to do normal body functions, such as breathing, digestion, making your heart beat and a few other very rudimentary, but essential things.
On the other side of the coin are the people in 2011 who lead active to very active professional lives. This group of people are in jobs that require manual labor - constant walking or physical activity. Many take for granted that we are in a better situation than some of our peers who have to sit at desks all day. The cruel irony is that those of us who do lead pretty physical work lives are really not much better off than someone sitting at a desk all day, if that's all the activity that we do.
Please refer back to acknowledgment 1: the human body is designed to walk 50 miles a day and kill saber tooth tigers.
One very common excuse from people who lead relatively active careers is that, "I'm active all day. When I get home, I'm tired and I don't feel like working out." Unfortunately for this group, your daily energy expenditure is not much higher than the group that sat at the desk all day.
Why? Because all you're doing is living slightly closer to our cornerstone acknowledgement: that we were created to perform physical work.
The greatest thing about the human body is it's ability to adapt to stressors. So if you're in an activity or a career where you do basically the same thing day after day, you are forcing no subsequent changes to your body. Your baseline ends up being about the same as someone who's body is used to sitting around. And this is the reason why calculating daily calorie expenditures for a given population is not that hard to do, based on statistics. The difference in energy usage between someone (of the same age and gender) who sits at a desk all day, someone that lays block for a living, or someone that runs a household is not very different. The difference is probably only 10-12 percent.
So the answer in 2011 is physical training.
If you want to be fit today, regardless of definition, training is essential. There are no secrets. In my specific case, I consider training and time with my family to be on the same level. In a perfect world, quantity of time is almost always better than quality of time. I would much rather spend every day with my children than one day a week of "quality time." Likewise, you will do better working out every day than having one super workout a week. There is no secret. There's no special exercise. There's no special food sequence or supplement that will short-cut what our bodies were designed to do.
Over the next couple weeks, I'm going to address two other main excuses to lack of training: "No time" and "My genetics." If you're motivated this week, my recommendation for a weekly challenge is to work out every day. 7 straight days...Monday to Monday. Train this week with a purpose...like you were created to do it.