With what seems like endless amounts of diets, fitness programs, and brand new fitness fads popping up daily, it can be more than a little confusing trying to figure out what works. You go out and buy book after book on the subjects of fitness and nutrition, but that just leaves you more confused.
"Do I eat paleo or vegan?"
"Should I sign up for CrossFit or hot yoga"
"This guy said handstands suck, but this guy said handstands are essential."
It's enough to make your head spin! Even I find it confusing from time to time, and I've been doing this professionally for a long time. Fitness and nutrition are both ever evolving, growing, and changing. There's always new information and studies coming out with science to back them up, that's why a great coach continues to learn constantly!
But what about you?
You're not a fitness professional (if you are, this isn't directed towards you) and you have other obligations. You have work, maybe a family, social obligations, and other interests that take up your time. How the hell are you going to sift through the "weeds" in this ocean of fitness and nutrition information? How are you going to succeed towards your goals?
You could always hire a professional. That's the best step towards success, they do all the planning, you show up, do exactly what they say and success in almost guaranteed. That is, of course, if you can find a high quality trainer.
But what if you simply can't hire a professional coach? Well, fear not my friend! I'm going to lay out a few very simple steps to make this whole process easier on you. They are generalized, maybe vague to some people, but I'm going for minimalism here! Read them and adapt what you need.
1.) Find 3-4 Mentors
This is really simple. Find 4-5 fitness professionals who's work and life style you enjoy, buy their books, videos, and go to their seminars. Learn as much as you can from these people and implement it into your training. If you love power lifting, follow the BEST powerlifting coaches. If you enjoy bodyweight work, follow the BEST bodyweight specialists.
Now, DON"T just go for people who look good! This can be very, very, very deceiving. Just because someone looks good and knows how to train them self, doesn't mean they're a good coach or know how to train others. Look for professionals with credentials and who have a track record of success with people like you. Look for people who's methods, life style, and over all outlook/objective fits what you want out of your life. Find people who's training methods make you feel good, perform better, and fit into your life.
2.) Find A Diet That Works For You & Eat Real Food!
There are a truck load of diets out there, and nutrition is crazy and confusing to dive into at first. These methods, for the most part, follow very similar guidelines. Healthy diets all consist of whole foods, this means minimally processed foods. You want to base your entire diet around eating lots of fresh veggies, fruit, nuts/seeds, real cuts of meat, and good fats. Completely avoid (for the most part) sugar, highly processed foods, cake, cookies, fast food, and other crap.
Some diets allow dairy and grains, others don't. Some diets don't allow meat/animal products, others do. The idea is to find a diet that works for you, what makes you feel good, lose weight, keep it off, and you can keep up FOREVER! My suggestion is to try eliminating grains, dairy, starchy veggies and see how you feel. If you feel good, keep it up! If you add a little bit of them back into your diet and you gain weight, feel like crap, or have other issues, keep them out of your diet!
The last thing I would suggest is track your calories and macros (macro nutrients) and make sure you're eating the right macro ratios and getting the right amount of calories. A great place to start is to eat around 15% of your calories from carbs, the rest from almost equal proteins and fats. Also, don't eat less than 1,800 calories if you're training. There are a lot of resources on the net about how to track your macros and calories, you can also get an app on your phone to keep track of them!
3.) Be Consistent, Really Consistent
Once you've chosen your diet, out lined your fitness goals, and you have mentors guiding you, then it's all up to you. You need to remain consistent! Eat clean at least 80% of the time, stay within your calories/macros, and don't allow yourself to eat unplanned "cheat meals". Stick to your training plan, don't get blinded by flashy new programs, and get your workouts done like clock work. This is where people tend to get it wrong. They start a new program and just as it would begin to work, they switch to a new workout program or diet. This cycle repeats over and over again and they never get the results they're looking to achieve.
Stay the path, put in the work, and you'll get the results you need!
It may take some tinkering with your program/diet here and there in order to keep progressing. That's ok! In fact, I can guarantee your program/diet will need to tinkered with here and there. You're life will be up and down, your diet/training will have to move with it. The key to this all is being consistent, working towards your goal with clarity of purpose, and not throwing it away on the first mess up or new diet/program that comes your way.
Do this, and you will find success in your fitness goals!