In my 20’s and 30’s I tried pretty much every diet and workout craze under the sun.
Carnivore for 4 weeks, Vegan for 3 months, Les Mills for 4 weeks, Crossfit for 10…
The list go’s on and on. I constantly had some program on the go.
Most of the time I felt like crap.
However we can get away with this sort of stuff when we’re young as we have time and our body bounces back effortlessly from any mistakes we make.
In our 40s we have to be a little wiser.
Our bodies don’t recover quite so fast. The Formula 1 style metabolism of our 20’s slows down. We live a more sedentary lifestyle.
Meaning we can’t get away with an extra dessert quite so often.
You know all this, you’ve experienced it first hand.
As a result you really can’t afford to mess around with stuff which doesn’t work.
If you want to:
- Lose weight.
- Get in shape.
- Feel great and have tonnes of energy.
You don’t have the time and your body doesn’t have the “bounce back-ability“ to allow you to screw up anymore.
Yet there is one thing which will keep you looking better than 99.9% of other 40+ year olds and you won’t find it on google or social media.
Consistently Showing Up And Doing The Minimum Effective Dose
What is Minimum Effective Dose?
The Minimum Effective Dose( MED) is the minimum stimulus required to achieve a specific outcome. So in terms of health and fitness it might be the mimimum work you need to put in at the gym to build muscle.
It’s often a lot less than we think.
Once we pass 40 it’s much better to consistently nail this MED rather than following a pattern of intense bursts of exercise. Patterns which aren’t sustainable. Patterns which lead you feel grumpy and tired. Patterns which then mean you give up and don’t do anything for weeks for months afterwards.
So What Should You Do?
Let’s look at what I’ve found from extensive self experimentation and from the 100’s of people over 40 that I’ve coached. To start with I recommend they do 2 hours of exercise a week.
They can slice this anyway they choose.
6 x 20 minute workouts or 2 x 1 hour workouts, it’s really not important.
I concentrate on high intensity strength training for about 20 minutes of it. High intensity cardio for another 20 mins. This covers their basic needs. The rest of the time I tailor to their specific needs. Often this means focussing on biomechanics and mobility, to ensure they can move well for life.
This last part is crucial. It’s no good being fit and healthy if you can’t move around without pain to enjoy it or if everytime you go to workout you get injured.
For the rest of the week I have them doing 20 secs – 2 mins of simple body weight exercises 3 times a day (these can be done literally anywhere and don’t need a gym) and moving as much as they possibly can.
Will this allow them to compete at the olympics…no.
Will this lead to them looking and feeling better than 99% of other 40 year olds out there. Whilst avoiding the wear and tear on the body which exceeding the MED of exercise brings…
If they combine this with the following they will be flying:
(incidentally I personally guide you through all these points and a lot more in my coaching program which you can check out here >>)
Healthy Eating And Fat Loss MED
Eat clean 90% of the time.
That’s it. No counting calories, points or macros. No drinking weird shakes or starving yourself.
Over time (and this will be a much slower burn than your traditional idea of a diet) this will lead the body to shed weight and maintain it at a healthy level.
Is it better to lose 0.5 kg a week for 52 weeks straight (and then keep it off) or lose 2 kilos a week with severe calorie restriction for 4 weeks (and probably put it all back on again with interest in another 4 weeks)?
Slow and steady wins this race, every time.
What Does Eating Clean Really Mean?
- Eat foods with one ingredient (an egg contains egg, broccoli contains broccoli)
- Be a bit hungry from time to time (some sort of easy intermittent fasting pattern works great for this)
- Eat more in the am and stop eating a few hours before bed.
This means you can still enjoy eating out and splash out on the occasional finer thing in life. Not have your diet dominate your lifestyle. Maintain a healthy relationship with food and be in control of your body weight for years to come.
Boost Energy, Reduce Stress MED.
You need to control your stress levels.
If you have cortisol running rampant in your system it won’t matter how much other good stuff you do.
Your sleep will suffer, your testosterone (men) or oestrogen (women) levels will plummet. You won’t lose any weight. You’ll lose the energy to exercise and you‘ll feel awful.
- Sleep helps you manage stress and regulate hormone levels.
- Reducing stress helps you sleep and regulates hormones.
- Balancing you hormones makes you feel great, improving mood, energy levels, libido and metabolism.
To reduce stress, at a minimum you need to:
Now, I realise there will some of you reading this with insomnia (I suffered with this for 10 years) and for you this advise seems lame. You do prioritise sleep (it’s often all you think about) it just doesn’t care….I’ll talk about how I cured insomnia in a later post.
By avoiding screens late at night, not eating for as long as you can manage before bed (3 hours at a minimum) and avoiding alcohol at night you’ll start sleeping better.
Don’t worry about getting 8 hours, if you’re doing all the above you may well be able to thrive on between 6-7.
Fit in as much movement as you can during the day.
Get a standing or better a walking desk. If you can’t manage that get up and move every hour. Go for long walks, easy bike rides or swim lots. This will reduce physical and mental recovery time and has a huge effect on overall health.
It All Comes Down To This:
A little bit, a lot of the time, beats a big bit, some of the time…every time.
Now this may all seem overly simplistic but ask yourself this.
When was the last time you had a run of about 2 years doing all the above?
Sure I imagine you’ve done something similar in an intense burst which lasted a few months before it slipped.
If you’re anything like most people over 40, it’s probably been a long time since you consistently managed to do the simple stuff.
It’s so easy to get distracted by the big promises of short term fixes and life has a habit of going to hell right in the middle of our shiny new program. If when it does our new habits demand too much of our time they will be the first thing that gets ditched.
Slow and sustainable wins.
You can look and feel better than 99% of other people your age by just moving the needle a little bit every week.