Worry about the big stuff before you focus on the details

What is the biggest thing holding you back from your health and fitness goals? I would be willing to bet it’s one of four things: you have a  major illness that requires a doctor, you aren’t getting enough sleep, your diet isn’t as good as it should be, and/or you aren’t exercising enough or at all. I have worked with well over 1,000 people at this point and I have yet to find someone with those four things dialed in that still has major health or fitness problems.

Of course, very few have overall health, sleep, food, and exercise in perfect order. I’m incredibly fortunate and have very little stress and I still struggle on those items almost daily. I don’t expect you to just fix them all tomorrow. What I do want you to do is focus on those four things before you worry about anything else. I also want you to worry about them in the order listed above.

Your first concern should always be on the stuff your doctor can fix. Go see your doctor regularly and be honest with him. Let them run their tests and take their advice if they find something going on. Do your own research if they just want to throw pills at an illness, but certainly take their opinion into consideration. LOTS of issues are fixed with drugs. Just know what you are taking and why. When your doctor isn’t worried about you dying anymore, move on to step two.

Get your sleep in order. You should be getting between 8-10 hours of sleep in a completely black room every night. You shouldn’t need an alarm to wake up. If you aren’t doing that, you need more sleep. I can hear most of you laughing at that. Who has time for that? None of us. I usually don’t get there either, but sleep deprivation is one of the biggest problems of our time. One night of suboptimal sleep is the equivalent of taking a shot of alcohol every hour the following day. You won’t function nearly as well. In addition to the cognitive dysfunction that is easy to notice, you are also losing out on the most restorative processes in your body that keep you in working order. There are very few problems that won’t get noticeably better with more sleep.Working up to 8-10 hours of sleep may take some practice for some of you who have the habit of getting much less than that.

Once your sleep is as good as you can get it, look at your food. You know what all the bad foods are. You know you do. Quit eating them. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. Eat real food. Eat meats and vegetables. Avoid processed carbs. Go easy on sugar. As Dan John likes to say, “Eat like an adult.” You’ll feel better.

Finally, exercise daily. You should be strength training around 3 days per week. Throw in one day of high intensity cardio. Move easy for at least 30 minutes the other days. That could be a walk, gardening, cleaning the house, or anything else you’d like to do. You can add more of your specific desires on top of that, but those should be your baseline.

If your doctor says you are good to go, you are sleeping as much as possible, your food is on point, and you are exercising regularly, you can THEN start worrying about the details. Turmeric powder in your smoothy won’t help if you are living on 5 hours of sleep. 4 sets of 5 with 2 minutes rest instead of 3 sets of 8 with 5 minutes rest won’t affect anything until your food is where it needs to be.

Eventually, the details might matter, but most of the time there are major issues that need to be taken care of first. Focus on those if you want the fastest and most lasting results.