We get a lot of questions about products, services and protocols that promise miraculous results – improved body composition, fitness, energy or health – with minimal effort. This slant is not new – the lure of a shortcut (or “free lunch”, as Gym Jones calls it) has been the carrot dangling from our health-and-fitness stick since we first started paying attention to what we ate and how we moved. And wouldn’t it be great if it were true? If you could achieve all of your health and fitness goals in half the time, with half the effort? Heck, if that were possible, we would have signed on a long time ago.
There Is No Free Lunch
Trouble is, things don’t work like that. If there were a valid shortcut to optimal, well-rounded, big-picture health and fitness – don’t you think we would have heard about it by now? We sure haven’t stumbled across it. (And we live this diet and fitness stuff.) The truth is, there is no such thing as a free lunch. There is efficiency. There is intelligence in programming. There is concentration of focus, absolute dedication, fierce determination… but everything that’s worth doing requires – demands – that you work your tail off to get there.
You want to maximize health and achieve optimal fitness? We’ll tell you exactly how to do it.
Eat foods that makes you healthier, every meal, every day. Eat foods that makes you less healthy infrequently, if at all. Eat just enough to support activity levels and goals.
Exercise. Work hard. Harder than you are now. But more importantly, work smart. Too much volume, intensity and frequency is just as bad as too little.
Recover. Devote as much effort to recovery practices as you do to training. This is not optional. Most fall miserably short in this category.
Sleep 8-9 hours a night, in a cool, dark room. Make time for this. You can get away with less, but only if it’s summertime.
Manage your stress. Deal with it in a healthy fashion. Stress will undermine all of the above.
Do this, day in and day out, for years and years and years, as consistently as you can.
We Don’t Do Shortcuts
If you do these things, as often as you can, as consistently as you can, for as long as you can, you will be healthy. You will be fit. And your body composition will reflect that. Trouble is, that’s not anywhere near as much fun as the promise of a shortcut. And it’s nowhere near instant gratification.
But anything worth doing is worth doing right. And when it comes to your health, “right” is the only way you should consider. So we won’t offer you fads, false promises, or miracles. We’ll just tell you what you need to do to earn your 400,000 hour body, not just today, not temporarily, but forever.
We’ll be expanding on these concepts – how to “put it all together “- in future posts. Because while this stuff is all pretty simple, it certainly isn’t easy. Stay tuned.
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Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan - Whole9 EE says
Primal Toad says
Are your clients asking you about The 4 Hour Body?
When I read the title of your post I laughed out loud. Awesome. Love it. I am a huge fan of Tim Ferriss for different reasons but I also disagree with a lot that he says.
Matthew Muller says
This is surprisingly unsurprising.
I have come to realize that slow and steady is the way to go, and to keep a longer term perspective. Of course I want to be awesome NOW! and that will probably never change. But that is an immature perspective.
I often joke that if you want to lose 20 pounds easily you could always cut off your arm, and my new rule for weight loss is “it doesn’t count unless the weight stays off.”
I am in the midst of a Whole 30 and enjoying the results. But this is just a continuation of my overall fitness plan that started rolling many years ago and will continue until I die.
I think the main problem with quick fix solutions, is that they don’t build the necessary perspective, skills and attitude that lead to long term success.
Thanks for another brilliant post.
Melissa @ Whole9 says
@Primal Toad: People have asked about the book (although this post is not about the 4HB – we just took inspiration from the title). It’s more about the shortcuts people want to take to avoid having to do the hard work. People would rather intermittent fast than clean up the last of their dirty food choices, take a pill for energy rather than go to bed earlier, have a glass of wine before bed instead of practicing effective stress-relief techniques. We are encouraging people to take the long-term, big-picture view on health and fitness, and stop focusing on the short-term, quick-fix, instant-gratification “solution.”
@Matt: If you want to lose 20#, you could always cut off your arm. I may borrow that someday. Thanks for sharing your perspective!
Great point guys! One of the most poignant I’ve read yet. Hope everything is going well for you!
Mike Ussary says
There are no magic pills. A lot of people are rich making promises and getting people to subscribe and pay monthy gym memberships, but nothing changes. TV monitors, social hour and mirrors. 18 months and counting on taking control of life. 50 years of life is just around the corner and never felt better.
The Lazy Caveman says
What folks should remember too is that this method works and you will actually spend less time achieving your goals then trying to do it by trying magic bullet after magic bullet. Take my word for it after 3 years of crash dieting.
Melissa @ Whole9 says
Nice point, Lazy Caveman.
In our consulting practice, we see ALL the dramatic ups and downs and extremes people will go to in order to see “results.” More often than not, we’re left helping them to correct what will amount to a year or more of damage done in just a few short months of implementing these “shortcuts.” It’s FAR harder – and takes FAR longer – to fix hormonal disregulation, adrenal fatigue and over-training/under-recovering injuries than it is to prevent it in the first place.
Thanks, as always, for weighing in!
what a timely post. i was just about to give up and give in because i was comparing my story and journey to other people’s who are having much quicker results than i.
i want this to last a lifetime so i must be willing to make that same kind of commitment, right?
thanks again for all of the material and teaching you provide!
Big Tim says
Great post!!! You hit it right on!! Too many gimmicks still out there…This is perfect!! It takes effort and diligence!! Lifestyle is not about shortcuts, @Matthew that arm joke is priceless!!
I am gonna share this story on my fb page!!
This is just a huge theme in my family right now. My husband and I are both active after years of a sedentary lifestyle… me in circus arts, him in martial arts. When it’s your lifestyle, you don’t want a 4 hour body or even a 10 hour body. You want the process. The process is the joy. The process is the exercise and the recovery and the stress management all wrapped up together. It’s every little moment that you string together to make things a little bit better, a little bit stronger, a little bit clearer.
There is no shortcut to that. Every hour is an hour that counts.
Lauren G. - Whole9 EE says
Forget ‘Fitness in 100 words’, follow Whole9’s Secret to health!
Good common sense approach. It always amazes me that people don’t consider the sustainability of a quick fix. You should always ask, ” Can I do this long term?” and “What will the long term results be?”
I’m thinking of starting paleo but everyone I know who’s in it is also into a very demanding training regime.
Unfortunately I am suffering from a bike injury and have reduced my sport activity level to a minimum.
Will it have adverse effects on my body if I don’t mix the diet with high intensity exercise? for example setting my cholesterol level high (which is high already although I am very thin).
Melissa @ Whole9 says
Thanks to all for the comments.
Eran, you most certainly do NOT need to embark upon a high-intensity exercise plan to experience the health benefits of a paleo diet or Whole30 program. To speak to your specific example, cholesterol is impacted far more by dietary factors than exercise – and reducing inflammation within the body (the primary reason we’ve got high cholesterol in the first place) can have dramatic effects on biomarkers like cholesterol in just 30 days. The fact that you’re recovering from an injury makes it your dietary choices all the more important to your healing and rehabilitation.
Give our Whole30 program a shot – it’s only 30 days. What do you have to lose?
I appreciate the quick response, it sure brings me closer to start the program.
It it’s not too much, just one more thing: when doing a long high-intensity exercise, how do I regain all the calories and minerals that I lose?
Normally while I take long MTB rides I drink isotonic drink and eat protein bars. Will I need to bring meat and nuts in my backpack ? Will that do ?
Melissa @ Whole9 says
Well, if you’re doing long duration activity, by definition it’s not “high intensity.” However, you will need to replenish glycogen stores, water and (at the least) sodium during a longer event or training session (>90 minutes). I highly recommend reading “The Paleo Diet for Athletes”, as Cordain and Friel cover pre-, during, post- and post/post- event nutrition and hydration in great detail. (And they offer a ton of good food choices for each stage as well.)
Having successfully finished my Whole30 in Dubai and taking a week off the plan right after during a holiday, I’m back on the plan — but am working out in the mornings now, instead of after work.
I normally now wake up at about 7am and head straight to gym — no breakfast. I then come back up an hour or so later and eat protein and veg.
What’s the Whole9 thinking on working out before breakfast?
Can anyone help?
Melissa @ Whole9 says
Most folks feel better during their workouts with something in their bellies, but you’ll have to play around with it and see how it works for you. Try a hard-boiled egg or some deli turkey pre-workout (just a snack size), and see if it makes you feel better/stronger/more with-it during your training session.
I agree with this post, but think that I should point out that steroids are a huge shortcut. Not that I use or am advocating steroid use, but those suckers work.
Karen J says
Yes tis true … There are no shortcuts to healthy. Looking forward to your workshop in January.
There are some cool things in the 4 hour body and I actually did the slow carb diet for a while… So I started my heathy quest in regards to recognizing food as a big issue when I had my second child. To nurse her I had to avoid dairy, soy, gluten and nuts because my body wasn’t processing them correctly for her and she was reacting severely to it! Then I went to eating traditionally (raw milk, sour dough bread, sprouted beans and grains) and I felt like a crazy person… Not sure if I was not absorbing nutrition or what so I got on an organic plant based vitamin regime and in two weeks I felt SOOOO much better… But that wasn’t the end of my search. I still wasn’t vibrant and healthy. No sex drive, crazy moods, can’t loose weight unless I don’t eat, and just almost depressed… So then I signed up with Beyond Diet. There is a lot of good information there but the problem is I still craved sweetener and didn’t break bad habits, I just used approved ingredients. Then I went to the slow carb diet since I wasn’t seeing any results with Beyond Diet… I saw instant inches lost the first week and then nothing but what was totally challenging constant gross gas… So I had been researching Paleo eating for a while but hadn’t quite found something that would push me into it without feeling lost. Then I found the Whole30 and knew this was it for me. This is my solution. I’m on Day 8 and have been faithful to it. It seems all I tried was good because it was like little steps in the right direction… Each step was healthier than the previous and now I feel like this will push me to my vibrant health goals… Thank you WHOLE9 for the WHOLE30.
Erin @Whole9 says
@Carrie, THANK YOU for sharing your journey and experience!