There’s not too much we can focus on a time without getting overwhelmed. That’s what makes change so difficult. It’s often too much, too soon. Developing mastery takes time, effort, and consistency.
I’ve found that there are just a handful of highly important factors in living a healthy lifestyle.
- Daily movement
- Portion sizes
- Food choices
- Eating style
- Fullness when eating
Keep everything as simple as possible and focus on repeating these same habits each and every day.
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Push. Pull. Hinge. Squat. Lunge. Carry.
These are 99% of the movements your body needs to do in your everyday life.
Do this workout every other day to get stronger and more fit:
Instructions: perform as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes after a light dynamic warm-up, walking, or jogging. Minimal rest during the circuit, stretch afterward.
- Squat x 10
- Split Squat x 10/side
- 1-leg Deadlift x 10/side
- Push-up x 10
- Bent Over Row x 10
- Farmer Carry x 1 minute
On the days that you don’t do your full body workout, performing light to moderate intensity cardio (target heart rate = (220 – age) * .7) for 30 to 60 minutes will keep your heart, lungs, and weight in check.
Feel free to take a day or three off each week from planned exercise — just do something active like gardening, hiking, swimming, or walking. Taking 10,000 steps a day is a great arbitrary step goal for these days.
For simplicity’s sake, try eating three meals a day without snacking. If you feel hungry, oh well. Deal with it by drinking a little water or adding more protein or vegetables to your next meal.
Here’s how much to eat at each meal.
Lean protein: 1-2 palms, or 3-8 ounces at every meal. If you’re an omnivore, choose meats with the least amount of fat.
Protein source options (not exhaustive)
Vegetables: 1-2 palms, or 1-2 cups at every meal. It doesn’t matter what you choose. Seriously. Eat what you like. Make it as colorful as possible.
Food quality rankings
Carbs: 1-2 cupped handfuls, or 100 grams at 2 or 3 meals per day (preferably before and after your workout). Choose whole grains whenever possible, fruits, or starchy carbs like potatoes.
Fats: 1-2 thumbs, or 15 grams at each meal. Use these fats to top your salad (olive oil or cheese) or cook your lean meats, veggies, and carbs.
These are the kinds of fats we typically keep in our house:
- extra virgin olive oil
- coconut oil
- grass-fed butter
- nuts and seeds
- earth balance butter spread
Vegetables you enjoy are a must. Try to get a variety of bright colors. It doesn’t matter which way you prepare them.
Proteins that are low in fat are a priority. When cooking lean meats think low fat –> high heat. Spices and herbs go a long way to make healthier foods interesting while keeping the calorie count down.
Fats pack in 9 calories per gram and are the easiest way to underestimate your calorie totals. Measuring, not eyeballing, how much fat you use when you cook is the first step in limiting your calorie intake.
Making healthier food choices isn’t about being perfect. You’re going to be in a situation where there isn’t a super-healthy option. You may be at a restaurant, social gathering, or at a gas station and feel like you don’t have any “good” food options. If your food choices are limited then it’s time to focus on your eating style.
Eat slowly. Seriously this is the best advice I can give anyone trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
Chew your food thoroughly. Start with 50 chews for every bite of food.
Gandhi famously said, “chew your drink and drink your food.”
Chew your food so well that it is almost liquid. Chewing your water is to clean your mouth of food debris.
Whenever possible, choose zero-calorie drinks throughout the day. Water, coffee, tea.
Your stomach senses volume, not calories. It takes 15-20 minutes for your stomach and your brain to get on the same page regarding how full you’re feeling. Eating slowly helps you stay in-the-know about your hunger and keep your calories in check.
If you are trying to maintain body weight, eat slowly until you feel satisfied.
If you are trying to lose weight, eat slowly until you are feeling about 80% full. This feeling is going to change week-to-week, day-to-day, and meal-to-meal. Pay attention to how you feel and adjust accordingly.
If you eat slowly and stop eating when you feel 80% full, it does not really matter what you eat at that point… you will lose weight.
Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every single day of the week. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Make your room as dark as possible, turn off all screens two hours before bedtime, and establish a sleep hygiene routine.
Sample evening sleep hygiene routine:
- turn off the tv and plug in your phone across the room
- brush teeth and floss
- wash face and hands
- close the blinds/curtains
- turn on a fan or white noise maker
If you aren’t doing these things consistently, that’s okay. Ideally, you are doing them nearly every single day. No one expects perfection, I just ask that you try these simple tips out for a few weeks and see how it works for you.