I was having my car washed the other day, and the person running the car wash asked me "how do you keep looking the same?" Initially I thought he was talking about my limited wardrobe (it is comically limited). I fumblingly replied saying "I am like a cartoon character who has 2 drawers with just T-shirts and some shorts." He said "No, no, no, your body!" It was that interaction that made me sit down and really think about how I do it. Bearing in mind I was never into fitness or sports in my youth. I was always last in the cross-country!
These 6 points are not the detail but the essence of my athleticism. I have practiced this way of life for 16 years now with barely a niggle or injury. I have unofficially broken fitness world records. I am confident the rules will work for you as well. However, you may want to add a rule or two for your own unique personality, medical conditions and life experience. I also fully acknowledge the high levels of suffering both medical and mental health that might make some/all of these impossible. I also acknowledge how hard it can be to train when ill, run down, stressed and generally feeling poop. We all need a break sometimes, so listen to your body! Obviously this is from a male point of view where everything is easier. For all the points below be mindful of where you are in your menstrual cycle.
I fast every day. Technically we all do. BREAK-FAST occurs whenever you decide to eat that day. It isn't when Mr Kellogg, your workplace, school or someone with no scientific understanding of diet tells you to. In fact lunch, dinner and brunch etc. are all modern constructs that are not necessarily scientifically optimum!
I fast for a minimum of 14 hours per day almost every day of the year. Refer to my article's on fasting.
I keep a gentle eye on my calorie intake but not religiously. I don't worry too much about what I eat, but I do aim for a balanced diet. These days, I do think about my diets environmental impact. I do not deny myself delicious lovely food because PTs, celebrities, and some media outlets tell me its bad for me. My diet would probably disgust most gym junkies.
2) Quality over quantity.
My aim is to do as little exercise as possible while maintaining elite or peak fitness. Yes you read that correctly! I should not exercise more than I need, to be as fit as I am, otherwise I am wasting time and potentially stressing my body. Unless of course you thoroughly enjoy it! My training is fairly hard and intense. As a result my fitness is way above average for my age group.
I achieve this by utilising the following:
- Strictly mixed training. No single exercise discipline or sport trains for 'peak fitness'.
- Activating all muscle fibre types through plyometric (fast explosive), dynamic (standard) and Isometric (static) movements. I make sure all of these are integrated into set workouts. All a part of the whole.
- Combining explosive power, power, aerobic, strength, stamina and endurance into most workouts. All a part of the whole.
- I work hard not to obsess over muscle size or my body image. This has nothing to do with peak fitness! For many people this is an area of extreme suffering, linked to eating disorders etc. We need to be mindful of avoiding this path. I did travel this road for a while and it leads to nothing but damage. We should also be mindful of those whose life experiences have led them to this way of living.
My fitness is a top 3 life priority. My entire wellbeing is governed by it. This in turn effects my interactions with the world and the people in it.
- My ability to play and interact healthily with my 3 children as a single parent. I am probably at the maximum physical capacity for a parent of my age.
- My ability to save someone's life or succeed in an emergency scenario that requires physical prowess.
- My ability to inspire others.
- The glory of daily maximised energy levels and immune system etc.
- I enjoy my food more.
- I can now handle social situations with greater confidence.
The list goes on and on.
Exercise can save and turn lives around from psychiatric problems, prison, drug addiction, confidence.
4) Learning - Always researching. Only science.
I read and research about health, biology biochemistry, genetics and other loosely related sciences. I always check sources and double check for further research. I also practise what I preach. I use myself as a guinea-pig for my own theories, that I cannot test in a lab, until I have the finances
to do so. Science study helps you to think with reason. This reason cuts out the chaff and aids life progression and health.
5) Bad times - train through them.
It is really hard and sometimes impossible, but I try to continue fitness training through illness, injury, niggles, accidents, mental health issues, trauma and life upheaval.
- I trained through spinal and chest injuries from a bad car crash.
-When my daughter was hospitalised as a newborn with bronchiolitis I feared the worst. Even though I had a severe chest infection I trained every day. It was extremely hard to do. I came through the other end stronger and ready for the fight.
-1 hour after my mum died I absolutely cained myself with exercise.
-After my divorce, with a newborn baby in tow, I trained hard to combat , depression and anxiety.
All the biochemical stress that incidents like this caused me, were/are being biologically processed in a fight or flight reaction, through the medium of sophisticated exercise.
6) Minimalist - equipment and location requirements.
If you use a gym that's great, but make sure you have a system in place for when you cannot or don't feel like the gym. e.g. COVID closures, illness, illness avoidance, lack of time etc.
I don't use gyms due to social anxiety, cost and limited time. This has led me to a cheap, effective and often exhilarating alternative. I use simple light to medium hex dumbbells. A slam ball, pull up bar and a mat. That's my home workouts sorted! I keep them in my car (apart from the bar) so that I can do the same workouts outside wherever the heck I feel like. It is so exciting and good for the mind. I make use of the outdoors to integrate short to medium runs, sprints, crawls, broad jump burpees etc. into my sessions.
I also use play equipment in playgrounds, steps, rocks, bricks etc. A bit like Rocky! Indoors or out whatever works on the day. Be creative!
I hope this frank insight into my own experience may help you, even if it's just a little bit!
ALWAYS CONSULT A DOCTOR BEFORE UNDERGOING ANY NEW DIET OR FITNESS REGIME.
Don't fast if you have a history of eating disorders. If you’re pregnant, diabetic or have low blood pressure.