For Men Over 40, fitness minimalism is a pretty important concept. There's a ton…
This is a really important post. Possibly the most important one I’ve done yet. The most common problem with Men Over 40 and their success with fitness goals is a lack of preparation and time management. It is THE problem which leads to all others. Preparation and time management in and of themselves will not make your fitness journey necessarily easy. It doesn’t guarantee success. But it will alleviate or even completely eliminate the vast majority of your dietary and training problems.
As Eric points out in the Nutritional Hierarchy and Training Hierarchy, adherence and consistency underpin everything. This is another reason low-carb diets suck btw. If you can’t stick to something for a while, there’s no point even going there. If you can’t be consistent, you will never achieve your long-term goals.
If you get your adherence and consistency right (through proper preparation and time management), everything else falls into place:
- It prevents you from scrambling around for food last minute, only to find junk in the cupboards. We all know how that pans out…
- It prevents binging
- It prevents missing workouts and insufficient cardio
- It prevents poor sleep quality
- It prevents getting insufficent quantities of protein
So as you can see, it leads to success with diet, training and sleep, or at least less problems in those areas. The reason this is so common with Men Over 40 is that they tend to lead busier and more hectic lives than younger men. Not always, but generally.
Here’s how to get better at managing your time in relation to fitness:
Use The Annual Calendar To Capitalise On Your Long-Term Goals
I wrote an article here, which broke down which of the months tend to be easier and harder for certain fitness goals. If you choose to lose weight over Christmas, for example, you’re going to have an absolute nightmare regardless of how good your planning is. Same thing in and around summer holidays. Instead, choose easier months and focus really hard on weight loss in those. It will make preparation and time management easier.
I would estimate that 80% of Men Over 40 who lose weight successfully simply set fitness as a high priority, and they do it in months where it’s more than do-able to make more time for cardio and meal prep. It’s difficult to follow all of this at Christmas or when you’re in another country, or if you have 3 barbecues and 2 house parties lined up over the next 3 weeks.
These men don’t attempt to lose weight in difficult times. Whilst it’s perfectly possible to do so, your energy is better spent progressing with fitness goals at better times of the year. Otherwise you’re going to suffer unnecessary stress and deprivation (which make diets unsustainable). How do I know? Cause I’ve had years of experience doing this myself and have watched too many others do it too.
Be smart and pick smart times to apply all of your energy and focus into fat loss goals.
Plan Your Week Properly In Advance
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
This is going to include:
- Food shopping
- Meal prep (possibly)
- Planning your training schedule
- Planning your meal schedule
- Actually physically write down anything coming up in the next seven days that may compromise your plan
Don’t do this when you’re hungry, for reasons I hope are obvious. You should also have a list of the foods you know you need in order to make progress. This list should include your 3 main sources of protein, 3 main carbs and 3 main fats.
Don’t buy any sweets or junk. You know what happens when you open your cupboards to see loads of them winking at you late at night when you’ve eaten all of your alloted calories. Instead, have planned snacks to satisfy your sweet tooth. Buy these instead.
Everyone’s different here, but I like fruit – apples, strawberries, pineapple, yoghurt, honey is great, unsalted nuts, watermelon, Fiber One Cookies, rice cakes etc.
Everyone also has other random trigger foods. For me, certain cereals are on this list to avoid. Weird, but something I need to be aware of. When I’m trying to get more chiseled the only cereals I have are oats, and granola.
Meal prep and planning your meal schedule
Failing to do this means you “don’t have time” to eat. I appreciate that as Men Over 40 your lives may be very busy, but if you have a high priority fitness goal, you need to make time to eat properly. Otherwise, as you probably know by now it just leads to binges later on. If you instead ate a meal with a decent source of protein and a load of fruit and veggies (meal prep sorts this out for you), maybe even some snacky type stuff too, you wouldn’t have to suffer the disasters later on.
I view a lot of fitness problems as unnecessary. If you plan and prepare in advance you don’t need to suffer them.
Think of the old pendulum. If you are deprived of food for any reason for too long, it pushes the pendulum too far. This always results in a swing back in the opposite direction just as hard, or even harder. In ancient times this lack of food was mainly due to starvation and a genuine lack of food. In this day and age, it’s not down to scarcity of food – our society is rather abundant in that sense. It’s down to either low-carb/super-low-calorie insanity, or, it’s down to poor time management and preparation.
You may feel like you’re doing well and accomplishing more at work by not eating, but remember that it will come back to bite you later on. Schedule your meals and stick to them.
Planning your training schedule
This starts off with a realistic plan. For most Men Over 40 who want to lose some weight, “hit the gym every day” might not be the best idea, especially if you’ve never actually stuck to this in the past. Again, you’re just causing yourself unnecessary stress and grief by feeling guilty about the skipped training sessions. Inevitable really. What’s more? You don’t even need them.
80% of your fat loss will come from diet, so you don’t need to kill yourself in the gym every day. Instead, when it comes to planning your training schedule, I would simply plan 3 strength training sessions per week with cardio afterwards. If you can do more cardio, great. But make sure you consistently stick to 3 times per week first before attempting more.
Working around challenges
This is absolutely crucial. It will literally prevent about 50% of your dieting disasters. If you have an upcoming birthday party, family meal or day out to another city, how are you going to adapt your weekly training plan (if it conflicts with one of your sessions), and how are you going to adapt your daily meal plan? You must know what you are going to do, and how you will adapt for this event. SO important.
The average person will quit their entire weight loss goal, because they fudged up at a party.
The average Men Over 40 will spin their wheels trying to make up and supercompensate afterwards.
The man who prepares in advance and uses a proper, intelligent plan will eat at maintenance, still enjoy the event, and not regress a tiny bit.
Most people will screw up big time because:
A) They think they will be able to diet through anything without even thinking about how they might respond – complete lack of self-awareness
B) They just don’t plan anything in advance
The goal of working around difficult challanges is NOT TO REGRESS. As long as you don’t regress, you’ve absolutely nailed it.
Have a tough day at work coming up? Are there multiple potential urgent emails you may receive that could throw your entire day off? Good. No one likes a diet to be too easy 😉
Start off preparing for this the night before. This means when are you going to eat, and what are you going to eat. What is your lunch going to be, and when are you going to make sure you get it down your neck? This comes down to having a reminder system in your phone. You need an alert to go off at a specific time reminding you to get your protein and fiber down your neck.
Do you have to take your kids or grandkids somewhere in the morning/evening? Is this going to conflict with a training/cardio session? How are you going to make sure you get to the gym? These are all important questions to be asking yourself the night before a busy day. Any day, actually.
On the morning of the actual day itself, have a routine. Also a calendar. I like to review my goals in the morning, and also review the calendar to remind myself of what I need to do today in order to work towards these goals. It works very, very well.
Use Alarms Every Single Day And Night
I’m a forgetful bastard, and without alarms I’d be screwed. I need a morning alarm, obviously. You do too to prevent oversleeping and missing your morning routine – critical to daily success. Bad days normally begin with a poor start.
You also need an alarm to remind yourself to go to bed. I’ve not had much experience talking to other people about this, admittedly. But for me personally, I find this emotionally difficult to actually do. It’s pathetic really, I’m a bit ashamed of myself. But I struggle to get myself to bed sometimes, like a troublesome, badly behaved little child. It’s not sexy, it’s not motivating and it’s not exciting.
But it’s absolutely MANDATORY for the following:
- Anabolism, or in the case of Men Over 40 in a diet, avoiding excessive catabolism
- Testosterone production
- Appetite regulation
- Setting yourself up for a good start the next day, like a morning routine will
Setting an alarm to remind yourself to go to sleep sounds stupid, but it’s one of the best things I’ve done recently. Try it and let me know how you find it.
If you realise the importance of this and plan ahead every single week, you are literally ahead of about 99% of people. Your average person will quit their entire fitness life just becuase they messed up their diet on one evening. This could have been avoided with a bit of preparation.
Not all people will do this, and a lot will simply spin their wheels, feel guilty and keep on sabotaging themselves. It’s hard to watch. But if you prep in advance, you’re golden. Time management and prioritisation is important as always.
Get to work 🙂