My uncle lost 44 lbs on a diet and wanted advice going forward. Here’s what I told him.
Congratulations on the weight loss. You’ve won the first battle. Keeping it off, adding exercise, staying consistent and adding healthy food that you look forward to eating every day for the rest of your life is the key to longevity and improved quality of life.
After 30 years plus in the fitness business I’ve learned that balance, flexibility and strength matter as much or more than cardiovascular health after 50. Yoga will give you all three. In my opinion yoga is the most important fitness approach for guys over 50. Yoga will also force you to spend time working on your weaknesses which in turn creates the most permanent change.
I’m going send you the original Power90 program and the two One On One yoga routines. For the first 2 months you’ll find that you won’t be able to do most of it but that’s why it works. Avoid repetitive fitness machines for 20 or more minutes. Treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, stair steppers, etc. will lead to boredom, injuries and the dreaded plateau effect.
Never forget that it was food that got you in trouble in the first place and it will be healthy food that will keep you out of trouble going forward. Sugar and refined carbs may lead to heart disease and cancer so avoid them at every turn. Find gluten free high fiber bread and avoid too much dairy. Stick with plenty of salads and green veggies. Eat all the wild fish and free range chicken you want and remember that beans are loaded with fiber and protein so eat em up. Avoid eating fat, sugar, salt and chemicals from boxes, bottles, cans and bags and eat as many fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein as you can. If you can’t pronounce it avoid it – if you can pronounce it – blueberries, carrots, peas, kale, broccoli, salmon, brussel sprouts, etc. – eat it!
You need to exercise 5 to 7 days a week and all major meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) have to be healthy. If you must cheat do it between meals when the calorie count is smaller. Poor eating habits and lack of exercise will ruin the rest of your life and cause an early painful demise. Just look at the folks around you in their 60s and 70s. It’s not the way I’m going out. If you do the right thing the weight will stay off and life will be good!
PS ~ It turns out ice cream might create more damage than alcohol.
He shows readers how to burn fat and build muscle with his ultra-extreme Warrior’s Workout. Based on one of the toughest workouts in Bring It!, Horton created Crush It! as a fast-paced explanation of the Warrior’s Workout. The enhanced e-book features exercise tips, images and explanations, plus 27 exclusive motivating workout videos with Tony. The e-book also has a downloadable PDF of the exercise circuit so readers can print it out and take it to the gym once they’ve mastered the moves. CRUSH IT!, is available for $9.99 on Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindle for iOS.
With the arrival of spring, it’s typical for people to establish new disciplines (at least temporarily), but the new season is also a reminder that time is passing relentlessly. With every nanosecond, we all get a little closer to death. Yes, I said it. And don’t say I’m being a downer — this is reality speaking. Most people meander through life as if death isn’t coming. We wait, hesitate, procrastinate and blow off life-altering opportunities all the time. Our goals, ideas and aspirations are put on hold for some ideal moment in the distant future. Why and for what? Most often it’s because we’re scared to live at our full potential.
I’m here to tell you that your life on this earth is precious and shorter than you think. Turning 50 a few years back proved that to me. I swear it feels like I was in high school 10 minutes ago. As we get older, change can become more daunting with every passing day. You don’t have to be at midlife for this to be true. Teenagers get just as stuck as people in their 50s and 60s. I’ve seen people give up and throw in the towel at all ages. We’ve all been witness to the tragedies of misguided lives. The hope and optimism of childhood gives way to despair and disappointment with one bad experience after another. It’s the saddest thing in the world. Maybe you know what I’m talking about.
Is there hope for the fallen? Can we turn it around after years of wasting time, procrastinating, plenty of hardship and waiting for the right moment that never comes?
The good news is that you can have the life you dreamed of as a kid without meds and therapy. Step one is moving. It doesn’t really matter how you move. What matters is that you do. Step two involves eating healthy food, whole food that feeds the body, spirit and especially the mind. The garbage this country eats most of the time is killing us. Junk food and fast food (also known as food porn) do not fuel our desire to grow, learn and change. They keep us in a state of flux and despair. If you have problems, procrastinate and feel stuck in general, odds are you’re overweight, out of shape and eat junk.
The deck is stacked against you at this point. Your brain can’t function to solve problems properly if you’re feeding your mouth tons of sugar and grease. If you like this life of quiet desperation, then continue to spend endless hours sitting around. If procrastination, sadness, depression, low self-esteem and a state of malaise fit your lifestyle, then continue to eat candy, cupcakes, high-fructose corn syrup, fried food, saturated fats, soda, processed carbs, hot dogs and tons of cheese on your pepperoni pizza. Nobody gets away with making lame choices in this world. Sooner or later (turns out later comes sooner than you thought), your bad behavior will ruin your life.
On the other hand, good behavior can and will save your life. It’ll give you the opportunity to turn misery into joy and happiness, things we all seek. Authentic joy and happiness come from treating ourselves and others with respect and civility. Adult toys (cars, homes, jewelry, etc.), prestige, money and looks are usually a means to short-term pleasures. These things feed the ego. The ego isn’t real. It’s your desire to create a false you to present to the world — but that’s just smoke and mirrors making you feel better than someone else. It’s poison.
What is good behavior? You know exactly what it is by now. It’s a matter of whether you want to practice it consistently or not. The more disciplined you are, the fewer problems you’ll have. Honestly! For real! Life will still come at you at a million miles an hour and the issues in your life will still exist, but when you exercise and eat right, you create the brain chemistry of a person who can deal with issues, problems and challenges productively and happily. Other variables like proper sleep and stress management skills play a roll as well, but the foundation of “the good life” comes from the two things that make you a joyous, happy human being: exercise and healthy food. Period.
The clock is ticking and your death is inevitable, so while you’re here, why not take the first steps toward a better life. Get off the fence, ask for help, start moving, eat your veggies, enjoy the journey, enjoy the power of right now, push play and experience the life you desire and deserve.
Human beings are social creatures. We like to hang out with each other. We play and watch team sports, go to restaurants, church, concerts, and the movies. We find comfort in sharing those experiences with each other.
Because of this, we tend to adhere to new trends fairly quickly, simply because it makes it easier to remain within the group. There’s no shame in that. It’s simply a matter of adapting to our environment. We learn from our friends and family what is normal, and we build it into our lifestyles. We eat what everyone else eats, and we tend to become interested in what those around us do.
Sometimes, these trends aren’t that important — like wearing skinnier jeans or switching from 8-tracks to MP3s. Sometimes, they’re great — like the growing awareness of the benefits of organic foods or yoga. But sometimes, they’re bad news — like our burgeoning waistlines.
Our society, as a whole, is becoming fatter, and we’re viewing that as normal. Today, two-thirds of America is overweight, with Canada and Europe not far behind. One-third of adults are obese. And we just seem to be accepting this. We have larger seats at movie theaters, longer seat belts or extensions in cars and planes, home bathroom scales that go to 400 pounds. “Vanity sizing” is now a common practice in the clothing industry. What was a size large 30 years ago is now a medium. Think you’re losing weight because those new size 2 Gap khakis seem loose? Surprise! They’re actually size 6.
And, worst of all, many of our medical professionals continue to sugarcoat the truth by not advising their obese patients to lose weight. Why? Because they find it socially awkward.
I, on the other hand, have no problem calling it like it is. We’re a fat country, and we need to fix that. Our lifestyles have changed dramatically. Everything is urgent and there is no time to stop. Food is an afterthought, and when it is time to eat, it needs to be “now.” So we eat drive-through fast food, microwave meals, foil-wrapped bars packed with so many chemicals that they’d survive the apocalypse. High-sugar, high-salt, high-fat, high-calorie satisfaction with low nutrition. Not a winning combination. We’re on a treadmill and going backward. Increased incidence of diabetes, cancer, heart ailments, stroke, and metabolic syndrome are all symptoms of this new normal.
And what’s more frightening in this behavior is that it has been passed down from parents to kids. This is a learned behavior from childhood, a habit that is ingrained in our subconscious and almost impossible to break.
Luckily, there’s another aspect of the human condition that can come into play here. As a race, we happen to excel in finding ways out of “almost impossible” situations. Wars, plagues, financial crises, disco — we’ve surmounted all these things. And now we need to turn our focus to obesity.
To do this, let’s break it down to a simple lesson we learned in high school: cause and effect. The effect is obesity. The cause is too much lousy food and not enough physical activity. It’s pretty simple when you boil it down to these elementary terms. We cause our body to be overweight and unhealthy. We can change that when we learn that we are in charge of what we eat. We are no longer part of this ongoing problem but now part of the solution.
A 2007 study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that obesity spreads like a virus. If you are surrounded by fat people, they’ll influence you to become fat.
I want you to become the antivirus. Start to lead the way and improve your lifestyle one meal or one activity at a time. Get your friends and family together and cook a healthy meal. Start a fit club in your neighborhood and share your ideas with your kids. Become the leader of your group and go for a hike. Feel good about not eating what everyone else eats and teach others your newfound healthy habits.
You don’t need to do this alone. It’s not just you and me who want to fight this good fight. Take advantage of the fact that we are social animals and gather like-minded people to influence your town, city or state. Find your local healthy hotspots, P90X fit clubs, organic restaurants, farmers markets, classes sponsored by your municipality. If you can’t find any of those, take your search online, looking for fellow travelers on social networking sites.
It’ll take a little work, but you can do it. We can do it. I don’t know about you, but if obesity is the new normal, I have no interest in the status quo. So, come on, let’s end the trend of obesity!
My Google-friendly fans often get confused when they look to the internet for advice on how to eat like Tony. They find articles on my vegan ways. They find opinions on the benefits of organic meats. They may even stumble on the P90X2 Nutrition Plan, which features a “grain-free” modification with a strong Paleo feel to it.
“So which is it, Tony?” you demand. “What’s the right diet for those wanting to eat the Horton way?”
The answer to that, my friends, is, “All of them.” Yes, I was a vegan for years — and I felt great doing it. But the problem was that I couldn’t keep weight on, eating just veggies, fruit, beans, and nuts, so I had to rethink my strategy. I still eat tons of veggies, but I’m now a free-range chicken, wild salmon and other healthy fish-eating type of guy, too. I’ve also cut back on my grains, having discovered that the less gluten I eat, the better it is for my body and brain chemistry.
You see, even if you think you’ve found the perfect diet, it won’t always be perfectly perfect. Making adjustments based on your ever-changing needs — especially as you get older and wiser — is normal. I like to refer to this philosophy as “flexitarianism.” Some define this as a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat. I beg to differ. To me, it means you eat with an open, observant mind, shifting your diet as needed to suit your personal nutritional needs.
For some strange reason, this style of eating is news to most of us. As a society, we’re compelled to segregate diets into rigid categories, like we do religion, politics, or sporting team loyalties. Vegan, Paleo, raw, macrobiotic, pescetarian, pollotarian, or vegetarian. They all have their benefits. When it comes to food, there’s no shame in being a flip-flopper and taking advantage of all of them.
That said, I think there are a few simple rules to keep in mind. First off, why do you eat what you eat? Hunger? Survival? Cravings? Boredom? Performance? It’s important to find the balance. If you don’t stay accountable, then cravings for addictive comfort foods will cause all kinds of problems. On the other hand, overly restrictive diets will almost always lead to problems as well. Sooner or later, you’ll crack and binge. So, to keep your hand out of the proverbial (and literal) cookie jar, it’s important to design an eating plan that makes you feel good while eating it. If you do that, then you’ll stop the weight-loss-weight-gain cycle.
The diet guide in P90X and the one in my book Bring It! may seem entirely different, but they aren’t. The strategies vary, but when all is said and done, they both recommend that you eat healthy food. P90X2 takes that philosophy a step further with grain-free, vegan and high-protein plans — all healthy, varied options. Note the key word here: healthy.
If you’ve found the perfect diet for you, great, but it might not always work, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Think of it this way. Over the course of your life, do you buy the same car over and over? Probably not. As your needs change, you might go from junker, to sports car, to family wagon, back to sports car (midlife crisis), to roomy sedan. As your tastes, needs and economic situation shifts, you require different vehicles. The same goes for food. Your 20-year-old body and your 50-year-old body have totally different needs. It’s important to honor that.
Of course, I may be 100% wrong. Maybe there’s some magic diet out there that’s perfect for everyone. If you know about it, please tell me, because I’m willing to give it a try. After all, that’s the whole point of being a flexitarian, right?