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16 Ways To Improve Your Health And Fitness

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 06 January 2017
Hits: 11354

Just after the New Year's celebrations many people start to think, "this year I really want to get in shape". Over the next few days or even weeks they begin to try and make some changes to their lifestyle with what they believe is the "right thing" to do. From cutting out carbs, to going for daily runs, many people use a random approach to getting in shape that is doomed from the very minute they laced their shoes up. What tends to happen is they feel great at first and think this is it. But after a few weeks temptations creep in and the discipline is not like it was at the start. February comes around and they are back at work, pressures are on, family commitments and before you know it you are right back where you started! Many gyms see a huge increase in memberships over January and February only to see a dramatic loss around Easter. But why do so many people fail and get on this roller coaster of health? This article we will look at why people fail and give you the best tips for getting in shape.

Solving The Puzzle Of Health & Fitness

Many people look at health and fitness as a difficult jigsaw puzzle that they can never seem to solve. There just seems to be so many pieces and they are all scattered over the floor and it is hard to know where to start. To be honest it is not their fault either. There is so much contradicting information about what and what not to do. There are thousands of diet books all claiming to be the best, various exercise methods also claiming to be the best and in the newspapers, magazines and TV shows we are bombarded with information, again many of this contradictory. No wonder people are so confused and look at getting in shape as a complex puzzle.

Well it doesn't have to be that hard and I am going to show you how you solve this puzzle once and for all.

Before moving on I want you to understand that there is 3 things I need you to do to get the most out of this article.

    1. The first thing I want you to do is watch the video above as this is a summary of the entire article.
    2. The next thing I want you to do is read each section carefully and click the link to the detailed article.
    3. The last thing I want to you to is complete each one of these tasks one week at a time. This in total will take 16 weeks to do, (there are 16 points).

Step 1: You Must Write Down Your Goals

Goal Setting is the secret to ALL health and fitness campaigns, because this is setting the course of where you want to be.

In my 16 years as a Trainer ALL of the most successful clients were crystal clear as to what their goals were. Why then if we know it is so important do so many people rarely do it? Usually because you have not spent the time to set a plan. Any good professional athlete spends a lot of time doing this, business owners do this, artists do this. Why because you need to know what you are going to need  and what it will take to get the job done. You need a plan. When starting a new exercise program, most people fail or quit within the first four weeks mainly due to not having a plan. In order to break free from your old unhealthy habits, you must consistently “stretch” to make a change. All of the current studies on behaviour show that it takes about 21 days to integrate a new habit into your life.

Fewer than 3% of people have clear, written goals and they are usually the most successful in every field. Less than 1% of all people re-write and review their goals on a regular basis! When you set goals you attract the right sort of ideas and materials to realize your dream!

Click here to see exactly how to set your goals and download your FREE Goal Worksheet.

Step 2: You Must Know Your WHY!

This is a big secret! This is where your MOTIVATION will come from.

We all deep down know why, but rarely do we spend the time to put our emotions and feelings about why we want to change onto paper and read it aloud. You need to know why you want to achieve your goals in order to stick to your plan. Quite often we have people come in to see us because a family member told them they need to do something or the doctor told them to lose some weight.

This person rarely changes at all because it was not their goal, it was the family members or the doctors goal. They did not explore what they wanted to do, and WHY they wanted to do it. This person never succeeds for they do not see a need to change. The problem is not big enough yet. Even though to you and I it was obvious this person is not clear on why they are making these changes. Make no mistake about it, the best exercise and nutrition plan in the world is a complete waste of time if you miss this step.

Click here to read our full article on how to Motivation, Willpower & Changing Bad Habits

Step 3: Drink More Water

I told you at the start many of these tips and secrets are easy, and it doesn't get much easier than this.

Many people are not drinking anywhere near enough water throughout the day, some are not even drinking a single cup!! This means their body is in a constant state of dehydration and ultimately stress. Too much stress is the release of stress hormones whose side effect is tired, lethargy, weight gain, headaches. The body's hormonal reaction to not drinking enough water is the same as any other stressful situation which can set off a chain reaction of many problems.

WATER is as ESSENTIAL as BREATHING. Without it you will DIE!

Water makes up more than two thirds of our body weight, and without water, we would die in a few days. Just a tiny 2% drop in our body's water supply can trigger signs of dehydration: fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic problem solving, and difficulty focusing on smaller print, such as a computer screen. Mild dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. An estimated seventy-five percent of people have mild, chronic dehydration. One of the fastest ways to cleanse your body of toxins and speed up weight loss is by drinking enough water.

Click here to read our article on how to balance hormones and how water plays a big part in this.

Step 4: Learn To Breathe Correctly

There is so many more valuable things that breathing does to our body and many people are completely unaware of this. Most people do not even know what a normal breath is. Without doubt learning how to breathe is the most neglected part of any exercise program, whether it is for sports, rehabilitation or just getting in shape. Breathing can greatly affect your acid-alkaline or pH balance, metabolism, posture, your stabilizer system to develop strength, emotions and your ability to handle stress, and even cerebral fluid in the spine, necessary for a healthy musculo-skeletal system.

Before getting stuck into any exercise program it is very wise to learn how to breathe. Martial arts, Yoga and even Weightlifting understand this and spend considerable time developing and mastering this before taking on the complex skills and exercises. For they know if breathing is not optimal none of the program will work anyway.

Click here to read the full article on Breathing, why it is so important, how it affects your body and exactly how to breathe normally and also during exercise.

Step 5: Sit Less & Move More

Again another very simple thing to do. Modern technology has been great for many things, but not for our bodies. As technology has advanced we have become more and more sedentary and this is taking our toll on our health. One hundred years ago we would not have needed a device to tell us to walk 10,000 steps per day, we would have done that on a quiet day. Now some people are lucky to hit 1000 steps!

Sitting for too long apart from all the postural problems it causes, ruins your metabolism. Sitting for too long interferes with the way the enzyme lipoprotein lipase breaks down our fat reserves. And as metabolism goes down your blood glucose levels and blood pressure go up! Which is how chronic diseases begin to form. Small amounts of regular activity, even just standing and moving around, throughout the day is enough to bring the increased levels back down.

Even just small 30 minutes of light activity in two or three-minute bursts could be just as effective as a half-hour block of exercise. Without that activity, blood sugar levels and blood pressure keep rising and your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke also increases! It really is quite easy to make a plan to get 10-15,000 steps per day in. You can use tools like Fitbit or even your smartphone to help track your progress. The effort is well worth it.

Click here to read our article Move More & Sit Less.

Step 6: Complete Strength Training 3 Times Per Week

We are at Step 6 and this is the first time we have looked at using exercise. That tells you how important the previous steps are!

Did you watch the video above? If you did you will most likely be very surprised as to the benefits of strength training. When it comes to exercise once again the old myths, all the beliefs that we have grown up believing to be fact, are actually what set people up for huge failure. The belief that cardio is what we need to do and it is all about burning calories is how to get healthy. And while it is great people get out and exercise, for doing something is better than nothing, spending hours on an elliptical trainer or devoting time to jogging or spin classes is not what your body needs to be healthy.

Notice I said healthy and not just lose weight. Health and fitness are completely different! If you are someone who has not looked after your body and your health you need a health strategy. What people fail to understand and to be honest the media and even most Personal Trainers are poorly educated on this topic is that we MUST ADD MUSCLE! And you can only do this using strength training. Cardio does the exact opposite it tries to offload your muscle to make you more efficient.

Why do we need to add muscle? What is so important about this? Here is a just a short list of the various benefits of using a strength training program to add muscle.

  • Muscle is the biggest influence on your metabolic rate. The more you have the faster your metabolism and the easier it is to lose weight
  • Muscle regulates hormones and prevents disease like diabetes and cancer often caused from insulin resistance
  • Muscle improves bone density and prevents bone fractures, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and can even reverse arthritis.
  • Muscle prevents injury and improves stability across all joints
  • Muscle improves sporting performance by increasing speed and power.

None of these things are improved from a cardio training program. They will improve slightly but not to the level they need to be for dramatic improvement and overall health.

The older you are the important this becomes for as we age we begin to lose muscle! We start to lose muscle in our 30's before it starts to accelerate the loss in our 40's and 50's. Research shows that muscle strength declines 30% on average from ages 50-70 with more dramatic losses after the age of 80. This is why people gain weight so easily in their 40's and 50's even though their diet has not changed much from when they were in their 30's and 20's. It is all to do with the amount of muscle. The good news is you can slow this ageing process and even reverse the effects of this. But you must start training now and you can never stop! Ever! It is never too late to start either. We have many people in their 70's training with us and they improve even at that age! Check out Stronger For Longer.

You can still do cardio, actually I suggest you do fit some in, but do not make it the big focus of your exercise program. Strength training, and later on interval training, is the secret to your success.

Click here to read our full article Weight Training versus Cardio - Which Is Better For Your Health?

Step 7: Always Use Functional Strength Training Methods

Another big mistake made by many once again just from poor education as to what we should do.

Today in most gyms you will find an array of machines and people doing exercises created by body builders for the sole purpose of looking good in a mirror. It is fine if you are body builder and that is what you want to do. But most people are not body builders, they just want to have some improvement in fitness, be able to move well and live a healthy and happy life. They do not want or need to be a gym junkie. Unfortunately what happens is people are taught body building methods, exercises and programs for it is accepted that this is what gym is. I can tell you now that traditional exercises like the bench press, leg press, leg extension etc will create problems for the majority of the population and now the exercise you were using to get healthy is now going to set you up for injury, movement dysfunction and postural imbalance.

As we spoke about in step 6 adding muscle is very important but it needs to be executed intelligently with the purpose of making you move well and perform activities in life with ease and it should not take 6 days per week of split programs for every body part. Learning to use Functional Training methods is in fact a lot of fun, very challenging and works much faster than body building anyway. It is also what elite athletes use to prepare for their sport so it has a constant progression of evolving into fitness style exercises once you have mastered the simple methods and programs.

To help you grasp this concept you can get the Free Report below that will tell you exactly how to do this. Whether you are a beginner or an elite athlete this report will help you immensely.

Other great articles to read on this subject are below if you are still not convinced.

Step 8: You Must Stretch Every Day

We all know that when something in our muscles is in pain that stretching, massage and any type of relieving remedy feels good and helps almost instantly. Yet so many of us still neglect this and never stretch. Even people who exercise for hours and hours cannot find even 5 minutes to do some stretches. We all can benefit from stretching but it does not mean you need to dedicate endless hours or do Yoga 5 times a week to achieve flexibility. Actually what we commonly find is the people who do Yoga 3 times a week need to tighten up and stop stretching!

What you need to do is identify the areas in your body that are too tight and design a plan to correct it. Pretty simple. But like all of the previous tips you must be consistent. If you only stretch one or two times per week this will do nothing for you. Once you have identified areas that need attention you must stretch them everyday with the stretch or massage release to correct this. If you don't muscles will begin to tighten up, creating weak muscles and movement dysfunction.

The end result of leaving this for too long is you guessed it, MORE PAIN! And what do you think the first thing you are going to have to do to get out of pain? Improve flexibility and restore the muscle imbalance back to what it should be.

It makes sense and it is so much easier to do the maintenance stretching program and prevent the problem instead of having to do all the hard work at the end when you are in pain.

To learn more about the How, Who, When, and What to stretch read this article - All About Stretching

Step 9: Eat More Green Vegetables

To be honest we could have said more vegetables in total but if I wanted to be picky the green vegetables are the best. Vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds that are very difficult to get anywhere else. Plant chemicals called phyto-chemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce, get rid of old cells and maintain DNA. The green vegetables are really like nature's anti inflammatory medication. And it is fair to say we have a lot of inflammation in today's modern world.

Green vegetables are useful in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease since they are high in dietary fiber, and rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. One study showed that an increment of one daily serving of green leafy vegetables, lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11 percent. Because of their high magnesium content and low glycemic index, green leafy vegetables are also valuable for persons with type 2 diabetes. An increase of 1 serving per day of green leafy vegetables was associated with a 9 percent lower risk of diabetes. The high level of vitamin K in greens makes them important for bone health. These are just some of the amazing benefits to eating your greens.

Your mum was right when you were a kid and that you have to eat your veggies!

Click here to read our article Are You Eating Enough Green Vegetables?

Step 10: Eat Good Quality Protein With Every Meal

Protein is a food source which promotes recovery and rebuilding of cells in your body mainly for your organs and muscles, which is why it’s so important. Without the amino acids and nutrients from protein we cannot repair any damage. An easy approach to knowing which foods have more protein in them are foods that have come from things with eyes. For examples all meats, fish, eggs and dairy come from animals that have eyes so they are protein foods. The only exceptions are nuts & legumes.

The reason body builders love protein shakes so much is they know it helps in the process of building muscle. We already know how important muscle is from step 6 so this really goes hand in hand with that step. In simple language training damages the muscle fibers and tissue, and protein repairs it. It appears as though the amino acids found in high quality whey protein activate certain cellular mechanisms (including mTORC-1), which in turn promote muscle protein synthesis, boost thyroid, and also protect against declining testosterone levels after exercise.

The timing of this is crucial for you need to do this straight after you train. In practical terms, consuming 20-30 grams of whey protein with no sugar added 30 minutes before exercise, and another serving 30-60 minutes afterward can help increase both fat burning and muscle building.

One very big important point here is that protein helps to prevent cravings, in particular for sugar. When we eat a meal without protein and fat our blood sugars get a very rapid spike and quickly followed by a dramatic drop when we burn the carbohydrates up. This is when you get jittery, cranky, and have the overwhelming urge to eat something you know is not a good food choice. Your body does not care about your waistline it just wants to balance out the insulin and blood sugars by sending you a craving to eat something that will correct it quickly - sugar! Now if you had eaten some protein and good fats with your meal your body will have avoided this dramatic drop as protein and fat is not metabolized as fast.

Click here to read more about The Value of Protein To Your Health.

I also suggest you read our article on Saturated Fats.

Step 11: You Must Get Good Quality Sleep

I always use the professional athlete example when it comes to sleep for people who tell me they do well with only 4 or 5 hours sleep or it has nothing to do with weight loss or health. I always ask them, "do you think any professional athlete would go to bed at midnight every night and be able to play or train very well the next day first thing in the morning?" The answer is NO. Their performance would suffer considerably. And why?

Because we need our sleep to perform all the necessary building and repairing of damaged tissues, organs, muscles, digestion and thousands of other tasks that are ONLY DONE AT NIGHT! Trying to catch up in the afternoon is not ideal for we are meant to sleep at night not during the day. This is why night shift workers are often sick and are would not make elite athletes!

Our bodies are designed to follow the movement of the sun, moon and the earth. This is called circadian rhythm. When light stimulates our skin or eyes our hormonal system thinks it is daylight and releases a stress hormone called cortisol which is activated to prepare our body for movement, work and whatever we need to do in daily life. Basically cortisol is needed to wake you up, and is meant to decrease as the sun goes down so your body can prepare for activation of the growth hormones called melatonin to be released to allow the body to repair.

The cycle for physical repair is between 10pm and 2am and psychological repair between 2am and 6am. We cannot change this. If you neglect or sacrifice this step, you will never reach your potential with any of the other steps as your body does not have enough energy to do them. As much as training is important so is rest and recovery. And just as important for emotional and psychological reasons to make better choices in your lifestyle.

Click Here to read our full article on sleep where we give you tips on improving your sleep and exactly what happens at night.

Step 12: Eliminate Sugar

This step really could be step 3 as it is possibly the biggest saboteur of any health and fitness program. Sugar will make you fatter faster than any other food! We all know the dangers of smoking and how it kills so many people each year. But did you know that Sugar is killing more people than smoking? Most people would have no idea what foods even contain sugar, how much is okay to consume and that it is 8 TIMES MORE ADDICTIVE THAN COCAINE! The human body can safely metabolize 6 teaspoons per day the amount recommended by most experts.

Four grams of sugar is equivalent to one teaspoon. But the average person consumes closer to 40 teaspoons of added sugar a day. All that excess sugar is metabolized into body fat, and leads to all of the chronic metabolic diseases we struggle with. When you consider how much sugar is in one can of soft drink, you can see why people gain weight so easily and also are highly likely to develop serious diseases like diabetes. If you eat a diet that is high in sugar and grains, the sugar gets metabolized to fat (and is stored as fat in your fat cells), which in turn releases surges in the hormone leptin.

Over time, if your body is exposed to too much leptin, it will become resistant to it (just as your body can become resistant to insulin). And when you become leptin-resistant, your body can no longer "hear" the messages telling it to stop eating, burn fat, -- so you remain hungry, you crave sweets, and your body stores more fat. Leptin-resistance also causes an increase in belly fat, sending you on a vicious cycle of hunger, fat storage and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, etc.

The best way to get rid of sugar is do not eat processed foods. Eat meat, fish, nuts, fruits and vegetables and you cannot go wrong. Don't buy any foods in a packet, bottle or jar and you won't have to read food labels to see how much sugar is in the food.

Click Here to read our article Sugar Is The Killer Of All Health & Fitness Plans to see how to cut back sugar and make serious inroads into great health. If you can do this step well you are well on the way to success.

Step 13: Add Interval Training To Your Exercise Program

Now we are really getting to the fun stuff! Just be sure you have completed the previous steps before getting to this. In step 6 we warned of the dangers of doing too much long slow boring cardio sessions and how they actually make you worse not better. That does not mean you cannot do cardio training, you just need to be smarter on how you design your sessions. And there is no better way at improving fitness than Interval Training.

Once again elite athletes have known this for years that working at high intensity with rests between efforts is much more effective than long slow paced training. For elite athletes it improves what is known as VO2 max which is a measurement of the ability at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise. In simple language it means you can breathe easily under physical effort and last longer before you get tired.

But apart from the great fitness benefits, interval training speeds up the ability to lose weight very quickly. Scientific researchers found this type of exercise works because it produces a unique metabolic response. Intermittent sprinting produces high levels of chemical compounds called catecholamines, which allow more fat to be burned from under your skin and within your muscles. The resulting increase in fat oxidation is thought to drive the increased weight loss. So a massive double hit to your health campaign. And the best part of this training is you don't need very much time to do it! A great session could last only 20 minutes! Watch the video above to see an idea above of how to do this.

Click Here to read our full article Interval Training - Exercise Less Get Great Results

Step 14: Use Meditation, Yoga or Tai Chi To Keep Stress Levels Under Control

This step is possibly the most important of them all - reducing STRESS! The reason is that stress can derail any program almost instantly. If a life changing event happens to us and it is not a good one, the first thing that often gets dropped is our focus on exercise, eating healthy and getting enough rest. The body will turn to comfort foods, avoiding any hard work from exercise and basically sabotage everything you may have done up to this point. It is also the main reason why people find it hard to start a health program for they have too much stress already and just the thought of starting a health program, even though it is good for them, sounds too hard and just more stress.

This is such a big killer of health, and is linked to many of the chronic diseases we see today. We all know that but what can you do about it if you are stressed. I find having multiple strategies for dealing with this helps greatly, and also when you are not stressed adopting these same strategies to help prepare you for the time when stress will come into your life. And learning the art of meditation, tai chi and to a lesser extent yoga can be great additions to your program. There are many other strategies, resources and tools you can use that will also help. The key is finding several ways and consistently devoting time to this.

Above is 2 great videos we filmed a few years ago about this that will give you some great insights to stress and also how to get on top of it

Click Here to read our full article on this very important subject - Best Tips & Strategies For Reducing Stress To Improve Your Health

Step 15: You Must Eat Breakfast & Never Skip Meals

We have looked at the type of food eaten in several of the previous steps, now we need to look at how often you are eating and the frequency of meals. I am amazed at how many people do not eat breakfast and how many people even skip lunch while at work. If people skip breakfast, it tends to throw them into a blood sugar crisis straight away and put them on the roller coaster of cravings, sugar, cranky, wired up jittery craziness from the very start of the day! I don’t know about you, but I like starting my day in a nice and easy way.

It is important to eat a breakfast full of essential vitamins and minerals but is easy to eat, in particular if you start your day early. Otherwise eating a bunch of fruit or breakfast cereals too high in sugar will elevate blood sugar rapidly and potentially be just as detrimental as skipping the meal itself! The word itself tells you what this means (break-the-fast). As we may not have eaten since the dinner the night before our body has used the energy overnight to repair damaged cells and tissue (remember step 11) and now our body needs more fuel to be able to function optimally both physically and mentally.

Skipping meals will have the same effect as not eating breakfast. We should never go longer than four hours without eating to ensure we maintain correct blood sugar levels. Most of the time when people skip meals, many people don’t even realize that they’re doing it as they are so caught up in their work. When you are paying attention to the signals your body is giving you, you will never make this mistake. Eating more frequently helps to prevent over eating and reaching for sugar laden foods to balance blood sugar levels.

Click Here to read our article How To Prevent Food Cravings

Step 16: Be Patient, Consistent & Never Stop

Okay we are at the end of our list of tips.

There is a lot more we could give you but I am sure you would agree if you were able to do everything listed so far your health would be significantly better. It would be unrealistic to expect someone to do this in a matter of weeks. It takes time to do this right and to become a master of each of these tips. All the 12 week challenges and body transformation contests you see advertised in gyms, magazines, online programs and even TV shows like the Biggest Loser convey the message you can do this in a short amount of time. Any professional athlete will tell you it takes years to be good at their sport as it requires so much dedication in all facets of their life as we have discussed many times in this article. You cannot rush things, quality over quantity rules every time. The poorer your health the longer it will take as there is more to do.

My best piece of advice is to be consistent and never stop. In Japan the word for constant and never ending improvement is KAIZEN. Not only is this an operating philosophy for modern Japanese business, it is also the age old philosophy for warriors too - and is the personal mantra of millions of successful people. Achievers whether that is in business, sports or the arts are committed to constant improvements. If you want to be more successful you need to learn to ask yourself. "How can I make this better? How can I do this more efficiently? How can I do this more profitably? How can we do this with more fun?

I have seen some amazing things happen in my 12 years as a Personal Trainer and the one thing that was common to all the success stories was their commitment and consistency with their program. Many struggled for a long time, some never were able to be perfect or as good as they would have liked, but the changes they were able to make by sticking to the plan for a long time were nothing short of amazing.

Click Here to read these Success Stories and how people changed their life and their health.


I hope this article gives some great insights into what it takes to achieve great health and fitness. This really is the definition of a Holistic Health. We have taken bits and pieces from many facets of health - Nutrition, Exercise, Goal Setting and even strategies for dealing with stress. It is this approach that will give you the best chance of succeeding long term and being able to enjoy your life to the fullest and find healthy is fun and not a chore. Like I said in Step 16 it takes patience, commitment and consistency to make this work. Start with the easy steps, get a few wins under your belt before tackling the harder tasks for you.

For more ideas and information on specific topics I may not have covered in detail be sure to check out our INDEX PAGE on the website that has over 300 of our best articles. These are all sorted into categories for quick reference so you can find what you are after more easily. You can also subscribe to our FREE fortnightly newsletter by clicking here.

If you enjoyed this article and live in Melbourne and would like to schedule a Free Consultation fill in the form below and I will be in touch within 24 hours to arrange a time.

About The Author

Nick Jack is owner of No Regrets Personal Training and has over 16 years’ experience as a qualified Personal Trainer, Level 2 Rehabilitation trainer, CHEK practitioner, and Level 2 Sports conditioning Coach. Based in Melbourne Australia he specialises in providing solutions to injury and health problems for people of all ages using the latest methods of assessing movement and corrective exercise.


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