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7 Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

For an unathletic, self-professed geek, I’ve made a fair amount of improvements in my physical life. Going from exercising rarely to exercising every day. I’ve gone getting completely winded after a three mile jog to being able run a half marathon. Switching to a vegetarian diet and still managing to put on fifteen pounds of lean muscle mass.

I don’t think I’ll be gracing the cover of Mens Fitness anytime soon, but I have learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. I’d like to share a few of those lesser known tips.

1) Exercise Daily

What’s easier, exercising three times a week or seven? It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four days to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a habit you don’t do every day.

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2) Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

Exercise for periods longer than sixty to ninety minutes can change the chemical state in the body which destroys muscle and causes fat content to rise, according to James Villepigue and Hugo Rivera of the Body Sculpting Bible for Men. The majority of improvement comes from the final possible exertions, so doing more can often mean getting less.

3) You Have a Set Point, Acknowledge It

Drugged up by no-limits, self-help philosophy, many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where there body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle. Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results. When you expect a plateau you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality you can avoid dietary crashes.

4) Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

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Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether your getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice seems to be:

  • Eat unprocessed
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course

5) Watch Out for Travel

Don’t let a four day holiday interfere with your attempts to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first thirty to sixty days, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

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6) Starting Slow is Better than Fast

Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on. Take your time, you have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

If you are starting running, run less than you can to start. Lifting weights? Work with less weight than you could use. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when you are familiar with regular exercise.

7) People Can Lift OR Anchor

Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can be great motivational boosts and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals. My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

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If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improvements. In this case it is important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

Do you have any uncommon tips for workout success?

Scott Young is a University student who writes about personal development, productivity and goal setting. Some of Scott’s popular articles include: Habitual Mastery, Double Your Reading Rate and How to Ace Your Finals Without Studying. You can get his free e-book on Holistic Learning here

More by this author

Scott H Young

Scott is obsessed with personal development. For the last ten years, he's been experimenting to find out how to learn and think better.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

1. Always Have a Book

It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

3. Get More Intellectual Friends

Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

4. Guided Thinking

Albert Einstein once said,

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

5. Put it Into Practice

Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

6. Teach Others

You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

7. Clean Your Input

Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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8. Learn in Groups

Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

9. Unlearn Assumptions

You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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11. Start a Project

Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

12. Follow Your Intuition

Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

13. The Morning Fifteen

Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

14. Reap the Rewards

Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

15. Make Learning a Priority

Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

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Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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