We should always be asking ourselves: “Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?”- Epictetus (stoic philosopher)

At 14 years old I was overweight and lacked confidence. The summer before my freshman year in high school I decided to change all that. I became more aware of the food I was putting in my mouth. I began a formal exercise routine and started weightlifting with the football team. That decision changed my life completely.

The answer to your question is stated in your question. It’s understanding and taking accountability for the things in your life you can control. Being healthy is 100% in your control (although sometimes it doesn’t feel that way).

If being healthy was as easy as “exercising and dieting” then we wouldn’t have the obesity rates that we have in the U.S… According to the Center for Disease & Control (CDC), obesity was 39.8% and affected about 93.3 million U.S. adults (Overweight & Obesity) in 2015-2016.

As a personal trainer of 15 years and current gym owner here is what I would recommend:

1. Keep it simple: The best diet in the world is the one you can stick to. For everyone who says fruits are good for you, there is someone out there saying its bad for you. For every who says to eat breakfast in the morning, there is someone else out there saying to skip it (called Intermittent Fasting). Pick a diet you can stick to and don’t waiver from it no matter what you hear. You have to give it a chance to work.

2. Think Behaviors Not Diets: I wrote an article called “My Skinny Friend Taught Me How To Be Skinny” (My Skinny Friend Taught Me How To Be Skinny) in which I explained the behaviors I notice in my best friend that never seems to gain weight. While many say he has “good genetics” I beg to differ. Following these behaviors will help you control your weight.

3. Study Health: I have many clients come to me say they want to lose a certain weight but when I ask them how they came to that specific number they have no answer. They are doomed to failure before they even begin. The best measurement of health is lean body composition NOT BMI. Get yours tested as soon as you can. This will tell you what your ideal weight and body fat percentage should be at. View this chart (Children & Body Fat) for more details.

4. Exercise = Movement: For some exercise is dreadful. I apologize for that. I think that the fitness industry has overcomplicated exercise by creating fancy machinery and clubhouse settings that aren’t conducive for movement. At the most  basic level exercise is good quality movement. If you had to perform physical movement at a moderate strenuous level what would you do? Don’t limit yourself to gyms. I play tennis 2x week and burn 1,000 calories/hr. That’s just as good as exercise. Find something you love and it’ll never feel like work.

5. Consistency: This is the most under-rated skill set in health. That which you do consistently is what you become good at. You can become good at health! Make it a priority to exercise 3x/week. Put it on the calendar. Have an accountability partner. We talk about this in our gyms podcast (LifelongFitness)).

6. Keep it fun: The moment it feels like work is the moment you begin to get feelings and thoughts that will cause you to want to quit. Even though you’re growing up, you should never stop having fun.

Remember all these steps are completely within your control. You got this!

Wish you only the best!

***Mario Ashley, MBA***

Naples Strength & Conditioning, Owner

CrossFit Naples, Owner

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