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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a young, naive, and baby-faced college kid who was eagerly getting involved with fitness. Instead of focusing on Marketing 101, my focus was on passing fitness 101.
With an obsession toward chasing my dream body, I wasted years of potential experiences and missed out on valuable relationships.
Being a beginner to fitness can be overwhelming.
It's easy to find yourself traveling down a rabbit hole of endless information. Before you know it, your brain is fried and you haven't made it to the gym nor eaten your first healthy meal. But before you get sucked into the vortex of information overload, use these seven principles below to establish a rock-solid fitness foundation.
1. The magic lies in your daily habits and behaviors
You might want to lose 15 pounds by the end of the year, but one swing of the bat won't knock all your weight out of the park. Often, we take actions hoping for the grand slam. We want to take one action and magically have our problems vanish.
What you do on a daily basis predicts your outcome as opposed to what you do occasionally. Losing 15 pounds might be the goal, but that won't become a reality unless you focus on executing the proper habits and behaviors on a daily basis. Your future becomes your reality when you stay present with your actions.
2. Adopt an 80/20 principle mindset
The Pareto principle ('80/20 rule'), in the business world, states 20% of your customers represent 80% of your sales. That is, 20% of your time leads to 80% of your results.
With fitness, the '80/20 rule' is your best friend. Instead of trying to implement every tip you come across while turning your life upside down -- only select the tips that deliver the biggest bang for the buck.
Think about what's the 20% in fitness that will give you the 80% of your results. This 20% comprises the basics (sleep, good food choices, etc.). The basics will stand the test of time. Your goal is to get the most value for your actions out of the least amount of effort put forth.
3. There are many different paths to healthy eating
At one point, I was stuffing my face daily with bland chicken breast while downing shots of olive oil like it was Tequila.
Did I enjoy this?
No, but I didn't know any better since I saw the pros and hardcore lifters doing this. Just as there are many modes of transportation that can get you from point A to point B—your nutrition operates in a similar fashion. There isn't a one size fits all nutrition template for everyone to follow. No matter the diet, they all start with the same fundamental philosophies of eating less processed foods and more nutrient dense based foods.
This general philosophy entails 90% of the equation. The remaining 10% is when all diets tend to unleash their weird rules and so forth. Focus on your 90% and let the 10% filter in however you deem appropriate. Obsess over your food choices (90%), not food timing (10%). Pleasing your palate and meshing with your lifestyle is the most important goal for any diet.
4. Sleep is your greatest ally
If the choice came down to either an extra workout or sleep—sleep takes the crown 100% of the time. Sleep is the silent dark horse that isn't given its much-deserved attention.
Lack of sleep has the ability to affect our hormones, moods, and hunger cravings—all of which leads to weight gain.
Before you plan an extensive workout program, make sure to plan and commit to a sleep schedule. Results and progress happen when you focus on rest and recovery. Try cutting off electronics 90-120 minutes before bed, read a book (not a Kindle), make your room as dark as possible, have sex, or try meditating for as little as 10 minutes to help with your sleep.
5. Find a workout program that you enjoy and fits your specific goals
Your friends may love Crossfit, circuit training, or power lifting, but if you find zero amounts of pleasure in those activities, then do something else. You're unlikely to stick with a regimen over the long haul if you absolutely dread taking part in it. Willpower is finite and eventually abandons you.
At the beginning, experiment with various forms of working out until you find something of enjoyment and simultaneously beneficial to your goals.
6. It's OK (and even encouraged) to not strive for 100% complacency with your nutrition
It's one thing to say 'no' to food temptations for the sake of staying committed, but it's another thing to never hang out with friends due to feeling guilty about messing up your diet. Committing to fitness doesn't mean becoming a prisoner of your own diet.
In the grand scheme of things, a slice of cake or a couple of glasses of wine won't ruin a large body of work consisting of daily healthy habits.
We're humans with a pulse, not robots who occasionally need some WD-40.
7. Your body doesn't determine your self-worth
I used to compare myself to magazine covers, athletes, and fitness models. I told myself I wasn't good enough until I was on their level.
When comparing ourselves, we only see what the other has that we want, not what they're missing. Our self-worth isn't tied to the size of our biceps, six-pack, dress size, toned legs, or whatever other external metric that exists.
A healthy look is valuable, but never hand your self-worth card over to anyone nor let any number determine your value.
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