Lead Photo Credit: Joseph Wayne Buchanan
1 – Seek the Middle Ground
I used to work with a guy, Phil, who did something interesting. During Lent, he gave up his health. He was one of those guys who combined yoga with meditative movements from every corner of the world, drank cocktails made of frog bile and various magic herbs and oils, and spent lots of time on his little rug balancing rocks.
But, every spring, he stopped all of it. He ate doughnuts, drank coffee, and smoked cigarettes. He stopped doing everything healthy. When Easter came around, he told me he couldn't wait to get back to his ascetic lifestyle.
It never made sense to me. But, like the Atkins Diet, spending a few weeks emphasizing one thing after years of doing the opposite seems to help. So, on some level, I understand it.
The only issue is that it goes against the thousands of years of Western tradition. Achilles' search for "Arete," striving for virtue that will last well beyond your lifetime, is based on understanding that "somewhere in the middle" of the extremes is the road we seek.
Many people I work with are actually just like Phil. They just live on another extreme. They focus on a thousand things at once, answer every ping from the phone, scroll through social media for hours, try every diet and supplement idea all at once and leave everything in life unfinished, cluttered, and messy. And that brings us to the next point.
2 – Get Organized
I have a new piece of advice for personal trainers working with new clients trying to lose fat: Walk with him or her out to the parking lot and look in the backseat of their car. Nearly universally, the backseat is a mess. Fast food bags, clothes, crap, and God knows what covers most of the seating area. If the backseat is cluttered, the car is cluttered, and this person's life is cluttered. And the car smells of old McDonald's French fries. You know that smell.
And, yes, this might sound simplistic but the secret to fat loss is cleaning the backseat of that car. Stick with me here. The mind will struggle to focus on something as difficult as fat loss if everything is a mess. Significant fat loss is one of the MOST difficult things you can do without surgery, and a chaotic environment will make it even harder.
3 – Set a Routine
- Establish a bedtime.
- Two hours before, set the coffee maker (or whatever) for half an hour before your alarm clock.
- Take your supplements and medications. I take fish oil, vitamin D, and magnesium.
- Make your "to do" list for the following day. If you can eliminate one or two items (fill out a form, send an email, etc.) do it.
Then if you're a messy car person, here's what to do every day for the next week:
- Day 1: Clean and declutter the backseat of the car.
- Day 2: Clean and declutter the glove box, the little wells in the driver and passenger seats, and the general front area of the car.
- Day 3: Open the trunk, if you dare, and clean it up. Put away all the stuff you should have put away years ago.
- Day 4: Clean and declutter your bathroom.
- Day 5: Declutter your clothes. Donate things you don't wear.
- Day 6: Clean and declutter your fridge.
- Day 7: Open your computer and reorganize your folders. Put things where they belong. Add new folders and clean up the mess.
Every minute decluttering seems to clear the mind more and more. As I type this, I noticed that my desktop needs a quick sweep; thirty seconds later, my mind is clearer and more laser-focused.