Ask Josh: How do I go from Zero to Mountain Fit?

I get a lot of questions sent in by readers. Most require more than a quick response. I’ve decided to start posting these questions on my blog with detailed answers. If you’d like a question answered, email josh@joshnordwick.com.

Hunting season is just around the corner and now is the time to prepare if you don’t want another unsuccessful and miserable season in the backcountry.

In this article, I’ll take you step by step through the process of creating a successful fitness journey.

In a nutshell, it’s something like this:

  1. Decide where you are going.
  2. Determine the behavioral changes necessary to achieve those goals.
  3. Implement the changes one at a time.
  4. Make sure that everything that you change is sustainable so that you can maintain the results long-term.

 

Decide Where You Are Going

Most people know that goals are crucial to success. Unfortunately, most people have no idea how to set effective goals. I know you have big goals. Maybe you want to lose 20 pounds, get a six pack, and/or be able to run a marathon.

These are great goals, but they will require a long-term commitment if you want to accomplish and maintain them. In this section, we will learn to set appropriate goals. An effective goal meets the following five criteria:

1. Your goal should be written down. If it’s not written down, it’s a fairy tale. Try writing it down and putting it on your fridge/bathroom mirror. Each time you develop a new behavioral habit, place it underneath your main goal.

2. Your goal should be both specific and measurable. What is your main outcome goal? This could be to lose fat, get better at hiking, get stronger, etc. If you want to lose fat, how much? If you want to get in stronger, how much weight do you want to be able to lift?

3. Your goal should have a timeline. I want to do _________ in _______amount of time. If your goal was to lose 10 pounds, now you need to give it a time frame – I want to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks. If it was endurance, I want to be able to run 3 miles without taking a break in 10 weeks. This will be specific to you.

4. Your goal should be realistic. This one is difficult. You’ve probably seen so many infomercials, marketing, and straight up bullshit, that it is difficult to decipher between a realistic and unrealistic goal. Thankfully, Precision Nutrition has supplied us with some basic standards we can use to make realistic goals about fat loss. We can use these standards to judge our progress after completing this program as well. According to Precision Nutrition:

  • Excellent progress consists of losing 0.5-1% body fat every 2-4 weeks.
  • Average progress consists of losing 0.5% body fat every 2-4 weeks.
  • Slow progress consists of losing less than 0.5% body fat in 4 weeks.

I’ll give an example of 230-pound client. These are 10 week goals. You can do the math for your own bodyweight. (Note that fat loss will be easier the more fat that you have. If you are already relatively lean, it will be harder to lose fat.)

  • Excellent progress – 3 - 11.5 lbs of fat loss
  • Average progress – 3 lbs of fat loss
  • Slow progress – Less than 3 lbs of fat loss

5. Your goal should be both inspiring and personally significant.

Ask yourself: How motivated am I by my goal? Why is my goal significant?

Knowing your ‘why’ will keep you going when you have little motivation and are facing temptations. These temptations will come in the form of barbecues, weddings, birthdays, social outings, etc. They will disguise themselves as busyness with work and family, and encourage you to skip workouts. Make no mistake; you are facing a real opponent. If your goal isn’t significant, you will have a tough time overcoming temptation and achieving your goal.

 

Make the RIGHT Changes

The next step in this process is to determine the 20% of actions that you can take that will result in 80% of the results. This is known as the 80/20 rule or the Pareto Principle.

Back in 1906, Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that that 20% of the pea pods in his garden accounted for 80% of the peas. He then noticed that of 80% of land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people. He compared this land distribution to other countries and found it to be a constant phenomenon in most places. He found this same distribution almost everywhere that he looked. There have been entire books written on the topic.

This leads to the next question. “What are the fundamentals to a successful fitness journey?”

The answer depends on how you define success. For example, most fitness and diet programs consider success to be losing a certain number of pounds in 30 or 60 days.

This is a devastating error in perspective because the tactics that you use to lose a bunch of weight in 30 days are COMPLETELY different than the tactics that you use to lose weight and keep it off.

For my clients, success is making simple lifestyle changes that give them the tools and knowledge to live a healthy and fit lifestyle for the rest of their lives.

To accomplish this, my programs call for 3-5 hours of functional movement based fitness training per week and focusing on changing nutrition habits instead of prescribing short-term meal plans.

 

4 Reasons Why Meal Plans Suck

1) They don’t take into account what you are already eating or your likes and dislikes. They might recommend anchovies and spinach for breakfast, and these might be your two least favorite foods in the world! You would then convince yourself that because you won’t be following the breakfast protocol that you may as well not follow any of the meal plans.

2) They are not sustainable. Nobody wants to eat the exact same thing every day for 10 weeks, let alone the rest of their lives. With the habit approach, you will learn guidelines to create a healthy diet that you enjoy while maintaining autonomy over your own choices. The great thing about these habits is that they can last a lifetime without getting stale. Continue to follow these habits and eventually you will find your ideal weight.

3) They don’t take into account competing priorities. It will be pretty difficult to drink that spinach protein shake when you’re at your son’s baseball game. It will also be difficult to expect to eat your scheduled meal when you are out with friends.

With the habit-based approach, I’m not asking you to sacrifice the rest of your priorities to focus on nutrition. Instead, I am teaching you basic habits that will help you to understand what constitutes a healthy meal. You will be able to use these habits during your every-day life.

4) The habit based approach is backed by change psychology and has been proven to be highly effective.

“Research has shown that when people try to change a single behavior at a time, the likelihood that they’ll retain that habit for a year or more is better than 80 percent. When they try to tackle two behaviors at once, their chances of success are less than 35 percent. When they try for three behaviors or more, their success rate plummets to less than 5 percent.” ~ John Berardi, Ph.D.

Example habits:

  • Eat 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking – Jumpstarts your metabolism and helps you shred fat.
  • Eat Slowly – allows you to feel full with less food.
  • Eat till 80% full – teaches you to listen to the subtle cues of your body and not overeat.

 

Training Principles

I’ve written an incredible amount on this topic so I’m going to keep this section brief.

Here are the key principles for a successful training program

  • Deal with movement limitations first. In the book, you will find several self-assessments that will help you to pinpoint and fix your personal movement limitations. Outside the book, find a qualified professional to put you through a movement screen/ assessment. It will pay for itself tenfold by helping you avoid serious pain and injuries throughout your life.
  • Start with less. Training for two hours per day, seven days a week is the best way that I know to set yourself up for failure. 4-5 days per week for 45-60minutes per day is ideal and sustainable for most people. I like to break this down into:

 

What Next?

For everything you need to ensure a successful and sustainable fitness journey, sign up for my email newsletter. I’ll be making my book, Mountain Fit: The Hunter’s Fitness Solution, available to purchase for five days only from Monday May, 29th to Friday June 2nd. Then it won’t be available again until next year.