2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 7: Take a Break

This is day 7 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you” – Anne Lamott

The last 5 days I had you doing some form of exercise every day. Today, I want you to take a rest day. After you exercise your muscles need time to rebuild, so taking days off during the week is necessary to achieve better health and fitness. Rest days, however, do not mean you get to sit around, be lazy, and eat cheese puffs. It is important to keep your momentum and mental toughness every day. There are five things you should do on your rest days. The first one is obvious, you should rest. This does not mean you can’t go play a sport, go for a short walk, or go to the park with your family, it just means take it easy. The second thing I want you to do is let your body recover. Rest will ultimately lead to recovery, but the main reason you are resting is so your muscles have time to rebuild. If you aren’t giving your muscles a chance to recover through resting, then you are doing yourself a disservice. So if your friends really want you to play golf on your rest day but your legs are sore, it may actually be in your best interests to rent a cart instead of walking the course so your legs are nice and fresh for the next day’s workout.

The third thing I want you to do on your rest day is hydrate. Drinking plenty of water is important to stay healthy and to allow your muscles to rebuild. Fourthly, you need to stretch. Light yoga is a perfect exercise for one of your rest days. If you are not into yoga, spend at least 20 minutes stretching at home to keep your body in tip top shape. Stretching reduces soreness and ultimately prevents injury, and nothing is worse than getting set back from an injury. Finally, I want you to reflect on your goals and motivations. You just went through several days of working out and you are probably worn out, so it is good to remind yourself why you did it. This is a good time for another motivational video.

I also want to discuss cheat meals. We haven’t gone over how to improve your diet yet, that will start tomorrow, but when you get into a healthy eating routine it is okay to cheat sometimes. Cheat meals are a good way to go out to eat with friends without worrying what you are eating. Aim for no more than 2 cheat meals per week, for example if you go out to lunch with a colleague from work on Tuesday and order a burger and fries, and you eat out with your family Friday evening and order your favorite comfort food dish, then you should not choose to eat poorly on Saturday and Sunday.

Just like you should aim for no more than 2 cheat meals per week, aim for no more than 2 rest days per week. If you are at risk of injuring yourself, then take an extra day or two off and get back into it. But, if you are just sore, push through it and focus on a different muscle group for a day.

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2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 6: Tracking Your Workouts

This is day 6 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen.

Right now you are working hard, and I admire that you made it all the way to day 6. You are almost half way done with 2 Weeks to Health, and so far you have hopefully learned a lot, but you still have a lot ahead of you. Today is a short lesson, and tomorrow you get to learn about taking breaks. Yes, even breaks have a method to the madness. I hope your daily exercises and your food log are going well.

Just like you need to monitor what you eat, I want you to get into the habit of keeping a workout log. This log can be as detailed as you want it to be, but I recommend that it at least says what day you exercised, how you exercised (weights, walking, etc.), and for how long or how many sets you completed. For example, you should write down “Tuesday Jan 26 – 30 minutes walking, 3 sets bench press, 3 sets curls, 3 sets bench dips, 15 minutes of stretching.” This at least lets you know when you last worked out certain muscle groups. A more detailed workout log, such as the one included in this book, could have the exercise, sets, weight, and repetitions.

There are a lot of workout logs out there that you can buy that are already set up for you, but nothing is as useful as buying a regular notebook from any office supplies store and using that. There is no need to be too fancy, the goal is to keep yourself accountable for your workouts. Sometimes when you have a couple busy days you may need to skip a workout or two, and a log will make sure you can remember when and what your last workout was. You can also track progress with this log. It is always a great feeling to look back in your log and see how much you have improved over the weeks and years.

You can incorporate your workout log with your food log, and also log your weight if that is a goal. This way a single notebook can track your workouts, diet, weight, and any other health factors you may want to know such as heartrates, blood pressure, steps taken, miles walked/ran, medications taken, protein or vitamin supplements taken, water consumed, and anything else you can think of that related to your health.

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 5: Monitoring Your Diet

This is day 5 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

The beauty of food as medicine is that the choice to heal and promote health can begin as soon as the next meal.

Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. To be healthy (and to look good), you need to understand what you are putting into your body. Yesterday we discussed the MyPlate model and introduced macronutrients (macros) and micronutrients (micro). Today you will learn how to monitor your intake of macronutrients. As a reminder, macronutrients make up your calories. Because of this, the first part of this section is going to discuss calorie counting. The second part, which I will consider optional but highly recommended, will discuss macronutrient counting. But why should you put in the extra work to count macronutrients? Like I mentioned in the note yesterday, everyone needs a slightly different diet, and some diets are better for weight control than others. By counting your macronutrients you can learn more about your diet and what works best for you.

When you buy any food from a store, there is a section on the package labeled ‘Nutrition Facts’. For the next couple days I need you to pay close attention to this label, we are going audit your current diet and discuss it on day 8. Anything you eat or drink you will be written down in a journal or piece of paper that I recommend you carry with you everywhere. This journal should keep track of every food you eat or fluid you drink in a given day. You also need to track how many servings of that food you ate, how many calories are in a serving, and then how many total calories you ate. Every day you should have a total number of calories you consumed in that day. This will give us a base for a discussion on weight control later in this course.

—-Optional but Highly Recommended—-

If you choose to do the optional macronutrient counting then you will need to keep track of the grams of carbs, fats, and protein you consume. In the back on this book there are workouts logs that you can use to help you with this, or you can make your own journal.

Whenever you eat or drink anything, you need to write down the food/drink, and look at the nutrition facts on the package, just like you did with just calories. From the nutrition facts write down the serving size, carbs, fats, and proteins. Then look at the serving size, the servings per container, and how much you ate. Determine how much you ate and write down how many servings you ate. Please be completely honest, there is no reason to lie to yourself. Make sure you are taking portion size into account.

Multiply the carbs, fats, and proteins by the number of servings you ate to determine the number of carbs, fats, and proteins eaten. Serving sizes vary from food to food so even if you believe you know the serving size, recheck it. For example, a bottle of soda usually has 2 servings in it, so you have to multiply everything on the nutrition facts label by 2 in order to know what you consumed.

At the end of each day, add up the amount of carbs, fats, and proteins you consumed, and start over the next day. The goal is to see how many grams of carbs, fats, and proteins you consume per day.

—-End Optional but Highly Recommended Section—-

If you eat out or eat something like chips, it may be difficult to accurately estimate the nutritional values of what you ate. For something like chips, take your best guess. For a restaurant, they often post nutrition facts on their website, so a quick Google search might tell you. For everything else I recommend using http://www.wolframalpha.com. If you search “nutrition facts [insert food here]” on Wolfram Alpha, it will most likely have an answer for you. So if you ate a hamburger at a restaurant, Wolfram Alpha will tell you the average nutrition facts of an average hamburger. If you eat a banana or some fruit, it will also be able to tell you the nutrition facts for those as well. It has a database of almost every food.

The next two days I expect you to log everything you eat to the best of your ability. The more accurate you are, the better we will be able to analyze your current diet in a couple days.

I hope you have/had a great workout today! Keep up the momentum!

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 4: Understanding Your Current Diet

This is day 4 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

Today and tomorrow is all about understanding and writing down what you are currently eating and drinking. I am not asking you to change anything about your diet yet, instead you first need to understand whether or not your current diet is going to work for your goals. But why does your diet matter? Your body can be compared to your performance at work, you get out what you put into it. If you put in the time and effort at work to do a good job, you are rewarded with bonuses, promotions, and that great feeling of achievement. If you are the person who is reading this article at work and commonly procrastinates and does the bare minimums, then you should expect your pay check and nothing else. Just like work, if you put good food into your body you will be rewarded with better health, better performance, and even a happier mind. If you put in the bare minimums, i.e. eating unhealthy food, you should expect nothing but a pay check that will go straight to your thighs. And you probably will not like any bonuses you receive. A common rule of thumb is when you are trying to lose weight, 80% of your weight loss comes from your diet while 20% comes from exercising. You cannot discount the importance of nutrition.

Before you start changing your diet, I want you to understand the basics of food and what you are currently putting into your body. Do you remember learning about the food pyramid in your high school health class? Well, the food pyramid model was replaced by a new model called MyPlate. This model shows what your plate should look like in order to have a healthy, well-rounded meal. It splits your diet into fruits, proteins, vegetables, grains, and dairy, and visually shows you what you should be eating. One of the biggest differences between MyPlate and the food pyramid is the new model does not have a fats, oils, and sweets group. Many of the foods you already eat are prepared in fats and oils, so any additional sweets and desserts aren’t doing anything good for your health.

myplate

How does your current diet look when you compare it to MyPlate? If you are exclusively a ‘steak and potatoes’ eater then you are going to be a bit off balance. Also, if you’re a vegetarian it might be lacking in some areas. The goal is to have a well-balanced meal that benefits your overall health. But making your plate look like this one isn’t always enough, especially if you want to lose weight.**

You often hear about counting calories, and how if you only eat a certain amount of calories you will lose weight. Yes that is true when strictly talking about weight loss, and we will actually talk more about that later on, but for overall health you need to dig a little bit deeper into what you are eating. The calories you eat can be broken into three categories called the macronutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Proteins come from your meats, eggs, and dairy. Fats also come from meats, nuts, oils, sweets, desserts, and many other sources. Carbohydrates are in fruits, grains, vegetables, and sugar.

Depending on your health goals, you need to eat a certain number of calories from each of these macronutrients. We will talk about how to monitor these nutrients tomorrow, and we will discuss the specifics of your nutrient needs on day 8. For now, I want you to recognize that to be healthy, you need all of them, fats, proteins, and carbs. Many people believe that carbs are what makes you fat, or that fat makes you fat. This is untrue, an excess in calories are what makes you fat, and calories come from all of the macronutrients, protein included.

There are also micronutrients, which are your vitamins and minerals. We won’t talk about micronutrients much during these 14 days, but I want to bring them up because they are very important to remain healthy. If you follow the MyPlate model, the chances are you will consume enough micronutrients to stay healthy. If your diet doesn’t quite match up to the model there are plenty of companies that would love to sell you a multivitamin to supplement your current diet. Multivitamins are fine and often needed if you do not eat a balanced diet, but if you eat well then you do not need one. Unless your doctor wants to put you on a supplement for an illness, I recommend that you save your money and put it toward your gym membership and try to get everything you need through what you eat. The main exception to this is if you are a vegetarian then you may want to supplement vitamin b12, which is a discussion to have with your doctor.

Now think about your current diet again. Does your plate look like the MyPlate model? Are your calories primarily coming from proteins and carbs, not fats? Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables to consume enough micronutrients? We are going to learn the answer to all of these questions by monitoring your diet for the next few days. Tomorrow you will learn how.

Remember to keep working out every day!

**Note: The MyPlate model is the government’s guidelines on what you should be eating as part of a well-balanced diet. However, everyone is genetically and physiologically different. What you need to eat to maintain weight may be slightly different than other people. If you are trying to lose weight, a lot of people find that eating a higher proportion of protein and a lower proportion of grains will help them lose weight quicker. Other people such as vegetarians and vegans cut out meat altogether and will say a diet low in protein and high in starches will help with weight loss. Also, dairy is often not considered to be essential for one’s diet. This is why it may be beneficial to meet with a dietician to discover what works best for you. We will talk more about the individuality of diets as we go through this course.

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 3: Getting into a Workout Routine

This is day 3 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

You’re never too busy, it’s just a matter of priorities.

Welcome to day 3! Today we are going to discuss your options for how to get into a workout routine. I’m going to go step by step and introduce you to the different tools you can use!

Gym Membership:

While it is not required to have a gym membership to exercise, and actually at least a quarter of my workouts do not take place in a gym, this is by far the most common method people take when they decide to improve their health. I see it every year at New Year. On January 1st people flood to the gym with their New Year’s resolution to lose weight, but they never know the commitment it takes and give up when they are two weeks in with no results. That is why it is important to remain mentally strong and to stay motivated.

If you have the money and the time to commute to the gym, I highly recommend you buy a membership and then take advantage of what the gym has to offer. A busy gym can be intimidating because you are waiting for machines that you maybe do not even know if you want to use. Because of how intimidating it can be, I recommend you work out with a personal trainer for at least the first week to learn the basics. If you can’t afford a trainer, I will give you a few tips to get you started (we will talk about more detailed workout planning on day 12).

When you go to the gym, your workout will depend heavily on the time you have and your current fitness levels. This means it would be impossible for me to write a workout plan for you without meeting you. It will be up to you to decide what exactly to do, but here is a skeleton outline of one possibility:

Monday: 5 minute warm up on an elliptical, 15 minutes of ab exercises, 20 minutes of jogging or walking, 5 minutes of cooling down, 10 minutes of stretching

Tuesday: 5 minutes of stretching, 15 minutes of chest exercises, 15 minutes of arm exercises, 10 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of stretching

Wednesday: 5 minute warm up on an elliptical, 15 minutes of leg exercises, 20 minutes of cardio on a stationary bike, 5 minutes of cooling down, 10 minutes of stretching

Thursday: 5 minutes of stretching, 15 minutes of back exercises, 10 minutes of shoulder exercises, 15 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of stretching

Friday: 5 minute warm up on an elliptical, 15 minutes of walking or jogging, 15 minutes on a stationary bike or elliptical, 5 minutes of cooling down, 15 minutes of stretching

This is a very basic outline and assumes you have about an hour to workout. Adjust it as you need to, but remember, right now I don’t really care what you are doing as long as you are doing something every day. Use these workouts as a guideline for now, and we will talk more about this when we discuss detailed workout planning.

Whenever I tell you to do a certain type of exercise (like arms or abs), I recommend you do a little bit of research online to figure out what workouts you can do for them. If you google “arm exercises” you will find thousands of websites and applications that want to show you, for free, a large variety of arm exercises. Just a little bit of research will point you in the right direction. I would have provided a comprehensive list of exercises in this book, but there are already so many great websites that are already doing this. Also, do the same searches for stretching. For example, if you have a bad back, Google search “stretches for a bad back”. It is amazing what loosening your body after sitting all day at work can do for your mobility and overall health.

There are a lot of specialized websites and applications you can use to learn more about workout planning, and I encourage you start learning what does and does not work for you. I caution you, many of them will say ‘get [insert word here] quick’. Don’t be tricked by the get fit quick craze, this isn’t about quickness, it’s about long term sustainable results.

Personal Trainer:

I highly recommend you hire a personal trainer for at least the first week or two if you can afford one. A personal trainer will give you workouts that will push you and match your fitness level. Also, by setting an appointment with a personal trainer you will be less likely to miss a workout. Your gym will have personal trainers available for you to hire. Personal trainers will keep your goals in mind, show you new exercises, they are great to talk to, and they are often great to look at.

Classes:

Signing up for classes is another great way to hold yourself accountable and have fun while working up a sweat. Your local gym will have a class list available, and there may be smaller gyms around town that focus on a certain type of class. Some classes to look out for are Yoga, Bodypump, Zumba, Bootcamp, spin classes, CrossFit, and TRX. Talk to a representative at your local gym to see what they have available!

Friends:

Ask your friends what they are doing to stay in shape, and ask if they want to be your workout buddy. Be careful about what friends you ask. If you have a friend who is pretty fit and frequents the gym, they would be a good person to ask to tag along with. This way you knock out two birds with one stone, you catch up with a friend and fit in your workout for the day. You should avoid working out with friends who are less fit than you are, or friends who know less about health and fitness than you. You want to work out with someone who is going to push you, not someone who will hold you back.

At Home:

If you can’t afford a gym membership or you are stuck in the house then don’t worry. In a recent survey, we discovered that only 29% of people who reach their weight loss goals had a gym membership. There are plenty of ways to get fit at home. First, I encourage you to go for walks or jogs outside when the weather is reasonable. From my personal experiences, there is almost nothing that feels better than completing an outdoor run when the weather is beautiful (especially if you are finishing it at sunrise). If you have the money you can also buy home gym equipment such as a stationary bike, a treadmill, or free weights so you never have to leave the house to workout.

Calisthenics are also very easy to do at home. Some of the most difficult full body workouts I’ve ever completed occurred without any weights or equipment. You would be amazed at how much you can improve at home from 30 minutes of calisthenics. If you are struggling to fit in a workout during the day, then if you have 5 minutes a few times per day, spend that down time doing some sit-ups, lunges, or jumping jacks, or just something that gets your heart rate up.

Another at home workout method is to purchase a workout DVD or application. There are hundreds of DVDs and YouTube videos that you can exercise along with at home. With so many it can be hard to decide on which one to buy. I recommend trying out P90X, but other brands are definitely worth trying. You can find recommended workouts in the 2WeekstoHealth.com store.

If money is a significant concern but you want to spice up your workouts, there is very cheap exercise equipment you can buy to use at home. A jump rope only costs a couple dollars and is a great way to get your heartrate up and to exercise your legs. A medicine ball can increase the effectiveness of your core workouts, and add some additional challenge to your upper body workouts such as push-ups. Also, you can exercise almost every one of your muscle groups with a set of cheap resistance bands.  These can also be purchased in the 2WeekstoHealth.com store.

If you have a smartphone then there are several applications that you can exercise with. Go to your app store and search for fitness applications, and you will find they have workouts for almost everything! Also, video websites such as YouTube have thousands of videos posted by personal trainers that take you through full workouts. Definitely take advantage of all the free workout videos online.

Time Management and Prioritization:

Your day is already packed and it can be difficult to make time for working out, which is why it is important to properly manage your time and prioritize your workout. Whatever you currently do to manage your daily schedule, make sure you physically write in a time to exercise. By putting your workout plan in writing you will be more likely to complete it. If you are having trouble finding time to exercise, then this is where it becomes increasingly difficult. The solution to not having enough time is making sacrifices for your health. Think about what you are currently doing and what can be moved or eliminated so that you have the proper time to work on yourself. For example, maybe you don’t need to go out with your friends 4 days per week, watch hours of Netflix, spend time on social media, or even sleep a full 8 hours per night. Some things you will need to sacrifice to improve your health, even if you need to lose an hour of sleep (although don’t go below 7 hours of sleep).

Heart Rate:

Regardless of how you are exercising, you need to keep your heart rate up. If you are unsure if your heart rate is getting high enough, then I encourage that you buy a sports watch that shows your heart rate. Your target heart rate is a factor of your age, so if you are 30 years old you have a different target than if you are 50 years old. Here is a guide by the American Heart Association that tells you what your target heart rate is when exercising.

Age Target Heart Rate Zone (50-85%) Average Maximum Heart Rate (100%)
20 years 100 – 170 beats per minute 200 beats per minute
30 years 95 – 162 beats per minute 190 beats per minute
35 years 93 – 157 beats per minute 185 beats per minute
40 years 90 – 153 beats per minute 180 beats per minute
45 years 88 – 149 beats per minute 175 beats per minute
50 years 85 – 145 beats per minute 170 beats per minute
55 years 83 – 140 beats per minute 165 beats per minute
60 years 80 – 136 beats per minute 160 beats per minute
65 years 78 – 132 beats per minute 155 beats per minute
70 years 75 – 128 beats per minute 150 beats per minute

Do these sound too difficult?

You may be reading this thinking ‘there is no way I can do any of this’. If this is you, then do what you can, but remember to do something every day. Start by walking up and down the stairs a few times, or walking a couple blocks outside. Slowly increase your intensity, and make sure you are reaching your target heart rate. You will slowly start getting stronger, and you will go back and read this knowing that you are ready for the next step. No matter what your starting point is, you can finish in the best shape of your life.

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 2: Start Now!

This is day 2 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

Thinking and doing are two very different things.

Yes, you read today’s title correctly. Stop reading this and go to the gym, go for a walk, run up and down the stairs, play soccer with your kids, go do something active for at least ten minutes and then come back and read the rest. (If you’re at the office then I suppose it is okay to read this first and then go do something active after work.)

—– Go get some exercise, then continue reading. ——

Welcome back, how are you feeling (excluding my friends at the office who should be doing work and not reading right now, but I don’t blame you)? Tired? Sore? Accomplished? Probably all of the above. That’s how I want you to feel: tired, sweaty, but ready for the next workout because it makes you feel fantastic. Now that you completed the first workout with this two week course, I need you to continue to exercise every day. You may be asking ‘what should I do? All of these machines at the gym are so complicated’, or ‘I don’t even have a gym membership, how can I work out at home?’ We will talk more about workout planning tomorrow, but today you already accomplished the first two goals.

The first goal was the biggest step, not letting me scare you on day 1. Congratulations, you are already beating most of my readers! The second goal is starting now. The biggest challenge most people have is starting and then keeping their momentum. Depending on your goals and your current fitness level, your workouts will differ from your friends, family, and the gym rats. But the secret is it doesn’t matter what workout you are planning to do if you don’t do it.

Today you started, and I am now challenging you to workout/exercise every day until I tell you to (spoiler, it is day 7). I want you to have at least twenty minutes of activity from day 2 through day 6. If right now you can only squeeze in 5 to 10 minutes of exercise then that’s okay, but you can’t take a day off. The goal is to build momentum and to begin to form healthy habits. Once you get into a routine you should feel accomplished from your workouts and you will want to keep exercising. You are going to start feeling great just because you are committing yourself to your health.

Tomorrow we will discuss some of the basics of workout planning and the options that are available to you. In the meantime, have you ever wandered into the cat section of YouTube and been trapped watching kittens for hours? Me too, but there is an equally great motivational videos side of YouTube that you should check out.

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 1: Mental Preparation

This is day 1 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” -Art Williams

Life is hard to balance, I understand that. Between juggling family, work, hobbies, and other interests it can be difficult to find time to exercise and eat healthy. With it being so hard, why try to be healthy? The benefits of being healthy are vast: you feel better, live longer, spend less money on healthcare, gain better mental clarity, and are often happier. What you should do first is determine why you want to become a healthier individual, because it’s not what you do, it’s why you do it. The ‘why’ is the core of intrinsic motivation. Regardless of your reason for wanting to live a healthier life, hold onto it. The people who never lose sight of why they are exercising and eating healthy will ultimately be the ones to reach their goals.

Becoming healthier starts with your mentality and your motivation to succeed. Something or someone motivated you to read 2 Weeks to Health. Whatever it may be, harness that motivation and don’t let it go. Motivation is what will get you on the path to physical health. However, there are no short term solutions. It is not as simple as a month of dieting, going for a couple walks, or going to the gym to read your favorite book while riding a stationary bike (you know who you are). You need to be mentally prepared for the challenge, or you will never push yourself to achieve the results you want.

Do not let this scare you away, you’ve had this drive before. Think about what your passions are, or what you have thrown yourself into, giving everything to succeed. Maybe it’s your work, your family, or even back in the day when you were a high school athlete. That same drive and passion you had needs to be the drive and passion you have for your health. I am not doubting you will make some positive difference by giving minimal effort. Nonetheless, you will not see the results you are capable of if you don’t put your heart into it.

You should train your mental toughness by always maintaining a positive attitude, clarity of your goals, commitment to yourself, passion for your health, simplicity in your scope, and maintain a firm hold on reality. Your ambition to succeed, knowledge, self-belief, persistence, and adaptability are what will allow you to reach your goals. When things get hard, turn toward your motivation which we will talk more about on day 11.

You should also practice self-discipline when trying to reach your health goals. To do this, prioritize your health, do something every day to maintain your momentum, set small incremental goals, never procrastinate, record your progress, and ultimately, have fun while doing it!

There is nothing more important than mental preparation before starting a path to a healthier life. While this can be a very fun and fulfilling process, for a variety of reasons many people fail to achieve their goals. You shouldn’t be afraid of failure, what you should be afraid of is never starting. There will be days where you will not meet a goal but you will learn from every failure, and that is what will make you succeed.

The two weeks of tools I am going to give you will change your life only if you read them knowing you can achieve your goals. You owe it to yourself not to stop when it becomes difficult or when it hurts, but to stop only when you’re done. This two weeks will assume that you are a mentally strong person and that you want to make a change to improve your health. This starts here on day 1 with nothing but mental conditioning. So get ready for the most rewarding change of your life. I’ll see you tomorrow.

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 0: Introduction

This is day 0 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

“Sometimes you have to dive in head first.” – Admiral McRaven

There is no easy way to improve your health or to lose weight. There are tricks, shortcuts, fad diets, or pills that can change your life more than your own will and efforts can. 2 Weeks to Health is a 14-day crash course in how to change your life by giving you the information you need to lose weight, get fit, and live a healthier life. But I warn you, this is not a way to “lose weight quick”. It is a tool for you to use if you are serious about living a healthier life, and it will likely be one of the most difficult yet rewarding things you have ever done. Are you ready for a challenge?

Great! I need you to pick up this book every day for the next two weeks and read one chapter per day. Each day is a different lesson in how to live a healthier life, but you won’t be done for the day when you put down this book. Most days will be interactive, I will need you to apply what you learn in this course to your everyday life, so expect to dedicate a bit of time to this course, and to your health. At the end of the day, this challenge is all about you! I want to give you the tools to reach your health goals, whatever they may be.

But who am I? My name is Scott Van Hoy, a certified fitness trainer with a primary focus on nutrition and weight loss. In 2015 after a few family members set weight loss goals for themselves, I started writing down everything that I believed would help them reach their goals. The result was 15 articles that I posted to an online blog. These articles are what now makes up this book, with a couple years of refinement. The more I learn the more I’ll perfect this 2-week challenge. Today, my website which is still called 2weekstohealth.com is an ever growing health and fitness information source that welcomes guest writers and community involvement. The more it grows the more I learn, and the more I realize that the basics of living a healthier life can be learned in just two weeks with dedicated practice.

If you are serious about living a healthier life, I hope you take the time over the next 14 days to complete this challenge. Learning about health and fitness drastically improved my life, and I know it will help you as well. Tomorrow (day 1) is all about mental preparation. So prepare to prepare for one of the best things you can do for yourself, improving your health.

The 2 Weeks to Health Book 1st Edition Available for Free

The second edition of 2 Weeks to Health is in the works, and there are a lot of changes being made. With the new book about half a year from being completed, I want to share what is new in this upcoming edition, as well as how you can get the old edition for free!

The second edition of 2 Weeks to Health is a complete overhaul from the first. When deciding what changes to make, the key question was ‘will this make an immediate difference’? We used the 80/20 rule to decide what content should be added to the new book. We want to teach you the 20% of fitness and nutrition tips that will make 80% of the difference in your health. That is why this new edition explains how not to ‘major in the minors’ and how to choose what works best for you.

Topics covered in the up and coming edition include how to get started, workout and nutrition tracking, goal setting, overtraining prevention, diet and nutrition, supplementation, exercise and workout planning, lifestyle fitness, and how to bring it all together in a practical way. Be on the lookout for its release later this year.

The first book’s content is similar but different enough than the second edition that I will be releasing the entire book on this site starting on March 1st. Every day starting on the 1st a new chapter will be released. I strongly encourage you to follow along day to day as the chapters are released. Follow us at 2weekstohealth.com to receive updates on the upcoming release of the free 1st edition and the 2nd edition of 2 Weeks to Health!

“The book continues with the basic premise in mind of “Act Now, Learn as You Go, See Results.” I like the actionable tone. The book is set up to make you do, and learn as you go. The education structure is brilliantly laid out in the lessons. One day you learn what you need to know, and the rest of the days build upon the previous day’s lesson. That is how you actually retain information. Day Zero is Preschool, Day Twelve is High School Graduation.” – Approaching Fitness

 

Building Healthy Habits

A habit is an automatic response we make to something that happens in our daily lives. We don’t need to particularly think about habits, we just do them as part of our normal routine. For example, when we use the restroom we automatically take the time to wash our hand. Another example is the habit of brushing your teeth before going to bed. It doesn’t take much mental power to remember to complete actions that have become habits, but how are habits formed? Can we use habit building to help us achieve our health and fitness goals?

Of course we can! In a study published by the National Institute of Health, people with basic habit building training were five times more successful at losing weight than non-trained individuals.[1] The training consisted of only a small pamphlet with ten tips for building better habits. A very small time commitment to learn the basics of habit building can be the difference between achieving or failing at your goals.

Habits often take months to establish. When in the early stages of forming a new habit it is important to take small steps toward your goals, and not to change too much at one time. Choose one goal to work on at a time. If your goal is one that comprises of a lot of different steps, such as to lose weight, break it down into easy actions that can be repeated daily. A small change to your diet can be very helpful for your long-term weight management. For example, if your diet lacks fruits and vegetables, set a goal to eat one serving of fruit before you eat your lunch, and one serving of vegetables with your dinner. You can keep everything else about your diet the same, just add these two servings of fruits and vegetables to your diet. After a couple months of doing this, it will become normal for you to eat fruit with lunch and vegetables with dinner. Choose simple actions to add to your daily routine. If you try to change too much at one time you will not have to time to consistently train your new habit on a daily basis.

Notice in the fruits and vegetables example there was a habitual cue that prompted you to complete your daily goal. Eating lunch prompted you to eat a serving of fruit. Eating dinner prompted you to eat a serving of vegetables. Choosing a time and a place to achieve your daily goal programs your brain to prompt that action every time it encountered that same situation. Within a few months of continued practice, meaning completing the goal every day, you will notice you will automatically complete the action without thinking about it, just like washing your hands after using the restroom.

Sometimes finding a time or place to prompt your actions can be difficult. To help find something to cue your actions to achieve your goals, try thinking like a computer scientist. Computer scientists use a concept called ‘if-then’ statements when they are programming computers. These statements are ways of telling the computer if something happens, then in response, do something else. Use if-then statements in your plan, such as “if I want to drink a soda, then grab a can of sparkling flavored water instead.” Or “if I am hungry in between meals, then have fruit cut and ready as a snack so I don’t eat junk food as a snack.” When forming habits, your actions should always have a cue that signals when it is time to complete your action that will ultimately build a habit that helps you achieve your health goals.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3505409/