Master the Basics

In health and fitness, the big picture can easily get buried in minutia.  Don’t get stuck on the small stuff; focus on the basics and you’ll be very pleasantly surprised by how simple and effective things can be.

Having worked as a personal trainer for almost 20 years, I’ve encountered a particular phenomenon repeatedly: people worry about the most effective exercises, the best time to workout, the optimal duration of exercise, the most appropriate foods to eat, the ideal time to eat – and it makes them neurotic!  My suggestion is this: master the basics and worry about fine points if and when that’s necessary.

The basics are principles leading to great health and fitness.  They’re purposefully rudimentary because a solid foundation of good habits must precede small details.  Worrying about which cardiovascular machine burns the most calories when you’re not exercising consistently is like obsessing over which roof tiles to put on your house before digging the foundation!

Here’s my list of basics:

  • Don’t drink your calories
  • Eat lots of plant based foods (fruits and veggies)
  • Avoid processed food in favor of whole food as much as possible
  • Eat some protein with each feeding
  • Make your workout an appointment in your schedule and don’t cancel on yourself
  • Workout as vigorously as you can as often as possible
  • Move as much as your job allows during the day
  • Get as much sleep as you need and recover

I realize that list may look like a lot to tackle all at once, which is completely understandable.  If that’s the case, pick one thing you think you can manage and make it happen consistently for the next two weeks.  Once you’ve mastered one, move to another. Making changes takes time and determination so don’t overload yourself trying to juggle too many changes at once. Master the basics and reap the benefits of feeling and looking better!

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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

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