Spend less time in the gym.
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Yeah, I know, everybody says that. But here's the deal: You're not trying to be the next Miss Olympia, right? Noooo. You just want to stay healthy, look healthy and enjoy life with a body capable of taking you where you want to go — this fact allows you to save a lot of time that an elite athlete can't. But — and this is key — there's no such thing as a free lunch. Speaking of lunch, food in particular, if you want to spend less time in the gym, then you're going to have to eat less crap food when you're away from it.
By "crap" I mean low-nutrient value, calorie-dense foods high in refined sugars and modified fats, processed foods (like enriched white flour) and alcohol. This isn't earth-shattering stuff, I realize. But here's the kicker: The most efficient means to improve your health and physique is through proper diet. Implication: Instead of obsessing over the weight room and spending two hours of valuable family time doing more harm than good, spend 45 minutes training efficiently, then, eat right and presto. Four times times the benefit.
The principle of focusing on your diet more than your training is another example of the 80-20 rule, which states (for those three people who've been living in a cave for the past 20 years): you get 80 percent of your results from 20 percent of your efforts, and 20 percent of your results from 80 percent of your efforts.
Now, don't get me wrong, you must train; 20 percent of your results is still a big chunk, and ironically, in one of life's little cruel jokes, you won't even get the full 80 percent from diet unless you combine it with exercise. (Instead you'll get 100 percent of your results from diet, but those results won't be worth taking to the beach.)
The trick is to, again, train the most efficient way possible. And that's where a lot of the art of staying in shape is brought to fruition. It's tough enough just to get one good workout. It's even tougher to string them together for months and years, varying them so that you avoid plateaus, and then staying motivated enough to keep at it into old age. But, it's gotta be done.
Like work — it's what you make of it. And really, the only thing that makes it easier is doing less of it, and, as I've said, cleaning up your diet is the surest way to cut back on gym time.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC. Go to www.hometeamfitness.net for more information.